“And the bridge was suspended between the two
Arched so high up there that the Watchman
Could from his tower see all that had gone before
And all that was to come.
And that is why the anxious, helpless peoples of this
Continue to look up in despair and cry
O Watchman, tell us in this endless night
Just what the signs of promise are!” (Chancellor Williams p 294)
“Today, my resentment at the doctrine of race superiority, as preached and practiced by the white world for the last 250 years has been pointed to with sharp criticism and contrasted with the charity of Gandhi and of the colored minister [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] who lead the recent boycott in Alabama. I am quite frank: I do not pretend to “love white people.” I think that as a race they are the most selfish of any on earth. I think that the history of the world for the last thousand years proves this beyond doubt.”
(W.E.B. DuBois, “Whites in Africa After Negro Autonomy”, my italics)
“Perhaps the most outstanding early example of literary struggle came from the 1829 polemic David Walker’s Appeal, also written in Boston. Walker, a free man, proved from biblical and ancient Greek and Roman history that no earlier form of servitude approached western hemisphere slavery in its brutality. He confronted the pseudo-scientific racists by showing that the world’s pioneer civilizations in the Nile Valley were built by Africans. He said that white people were the natural enemies of Africans and called upon the enslaved to rise up.” (Tony Martin p 4, my italics)
This piece is an attempt to ground my view that the integration of blacks and whites both within white supremacy as reflected in the current situation and after the destruction of white supremacy is fatally disingenuous. And that while I am fully aware of Sobukwe’s and Biko’s view that whites who accept African culture and majority rule after the demise of white supremacy can become African, I firmly reject this view as politically naïve in the long run. The underlying argument as I will discuss in the last section of this piece is that while I recognise whites’ cognitive capacity to change, I posit that they lack the necessary political will (for obvious reasons of Power) to change their culture, which, as Ani Marimba has demonstrated, makes them to be aggressive and obsess about power and control over what she calls the cultural-Other; in this case the African race.
In other words, I do recognise the fact that they can change their culture and only a few of them can do this, to a great extent unsuccessfully so in my opinion, ultimately due to the psychoanalytical dimension of their psyche. As a result of centuries-long process of racist social conditioning, in my opinion there is a “psychological remainder” which despite their conscious attempt to change still influences their behaviour and relation towards blacks in an anti-black fashion. In other words, the gist of my argument is not ontological or genetic but political, that is; it is about Power. Fundamentally speaking, I will disagree with Sobukwe’s vision of African nation post-white supremacy/post-conquest. While he entertained the idea of accepting whites on condition that they accept African majority rule and embrace African culture, I subscribe to Marcus Garvey’s vision of a strong African nation, as discussed by Prof Chinweizu, in the form of Neo-Garveysim and Black Power, as he calls it, which does not entertain integration or assimilation of any kind, as entertained by both Nkrumah with Arabs and Du bois with whites.
This African nation is for the Africans only. Indigeneity, which is African descent or ancestry, is the first fundamental trait of who counts as African but also loyalty, pride in one’s indigeneity, culture and the advancement of the interest, norms and values of the African. The exclusion of whites is not ontological but ethical and political. The problem is not the being of whites but how historically speaking they have and still relate to the Africans whom they have reduced to what Ani Marimba designates the cultural-Other. I will also draw from Chancellor Williams in my support of the exclusion of whites. I am aware that on the basis of African ontology, motion and change are the principles of being as discussed by Prof Ramose and Wade Nobles, but I will argue that politically speaking whites don’t deserve a second chance to be included in the future African nation. In other words, I posit that Post-conquest integration with whites while it is philosophically appealing (to some people) it is politically disingenuous given the historical record of whites.
I don’t think that whites will disrobe their whiteness, that is become immigrants and be absorbed by the Africans. Psychoanalytically there will still be what I call the “psychological remainder” which will be the basis of unconscious racism. In other words, I don’t see whites committing racial suicide by ceasing to be white. A few of them can try it but this is only the exception to the rule of the obstinate preservation of whiteness and racism which goes with it. As an African Nationalist, my concern is with the general rule and not with exceptions. We are dealing here not only with white settlers but with white imperialism and as a global system of white power as discussed by Charles Mills. This means that it is correct to posit that whites need white supremacy and that white supremacy needs whites, thus racism is white supremacy.
While we need to retain the culture of Botho and Ubuntu, which is clearly foreign to whites, we should not apply it to whites. The fundamental function of culture is to solve problems and sustain the biological existence of a people. We need to use our culture carefully in the light of our modern challenges if we are to avoid becoming victims of our own culture like our ancestors did when they welcomed some whites only to wake up as the conquered. I will agree with John Henrik Clarke that Africans have to practice what he calls “the selfishness of survival”. I don’t doubt the fact that cognitively speaking whites can change, but my argument is that because of their “will to power”, as Nietzsche calls it, which has sustained them for the last 500 years of white domination, they should not be accepted as Abantu or Batho.
After a masterful and panoramic study of history, the history of the encounter between the blacks and whites, Chancellor Williams confidently concluded that the white man is the “implacable enemy of” black people. In addition to saying that the white man is the implacable enemy of blacks, Williams stated that the whites are the traditional and everlasting enemy of blacks. In other words, as far as the view from the bridge is concerned, the white man is the bitter enemy of blacks. Here is Chancellor Williams in his own words:
What, then, is “the view from the bridge”? The outlook is grim. For the black people of the world there is no bright tomorrow. The Blacks may continue to live in their dream world of singing, dancing, marching, praying and hoping, because of the deluding signs of what looks like victories-still trusting in the ultimate justice of the white man; but a thousand years hence their descendants will be substantially where the race was a thousand years before. For the white people, still masters of the world, do not have to yield. They have never changed their real attitude toward black people during all the passing centuries, and there is absolutely nothing upon which to base the belief that they will change in the centuries to come. (Williams p 301, my italics)
I am not the Watchman in this view from the bridge who can see two eternities, in other words all that has gone before and all that is to come. But I certainly concur with Williams as the Watchman that because whites are the everlasting enemy of blacks; there is no room for them at the rendezvous of victory. The point of my critique is the fantasy about future black and white integration, even if it is based on the terms of blacks .In other words, my main point is that a Black-Power-based African Nation should never entertain the fantasy of inviting whites to be part of it. The African tree and table should instead of inviting whites, invite some Africans from the Diaspora to settle on the continent after the extermination of white-settler colonialism as well as Arab settler colonialism. Both Sobukwe and Biko entertained the idea of inviting whites after the destruction of white supremacy. Here is what Sobukwe has to say:
Here is a tree rooted in African soil, nourished with waters from the rivers of Africa. Come and sit under its shade and become, with us, leaves of the same branch and branches of the same tree. (Sobukwe p 11)
Sobukwe entertained the idea that whites who accept African culture and majority rule can be part of an African Nation which will be created after the destruction of white supremacy. This is what Sobukwe has to say in this regard:
We aim, politically, at government of the Africans by the Africans for Africans, with everybody who owes his only loyalty to Africa and who is prepared to accept the democratic rule of an African majority being regarded as an African. We guarantee no minority rights, because we think in terms of individuals, not groups. (Sobukwe p 11)
Biko also entertained the idea of whites and blacks coming together after the destruction of what he designated the “white power structure”. Here is what he has to say in this regard:
It had to be artificial because it was being foisted on two parties whose entire upbringing had been to support the lie that one race was superior and the others inferior. One has to overhaul the whole system in South Africa before hoping to get black and white walking hand in hand. (Biko)
Here is Biko again in his own words:
We knew he had no right to be there; we wanted to remove him from our table, strip the table of all trappings put on it by him, decorate it in true African style, settle down and then ask him to join us on our own terms if he liked. (Biko p 75 my italics)
The question becomes why the need to invite him in the first place, when you clearly know that he has no right to be on the soil of our ancestors, except as an immoral conqueror? Now that we have established in accordance with the Watchman that whites are the everlasting enemy of blacks and the most selfish of the races as per DuBois’s formulation, does it make sense to invite them? The reason why I think Biko entertained the idea of whites and blacks coming together after the destruction of the white supremacy is that dialectically speaking he thought that the main objective of liberation is to create a “true humanity”, Sobukwe on the other hand assumed that there are no races but one “human race”. This is what he had to say in this regard:
The African people are very much proud of their race – the human race. They recognize no inescapable fundamental differences among members of even the three main branches of that race: the Caucasoids, Mongoloids and Afrinoids. (Sobukwe p 24, my italics)
In a nutshell, for both Biko and Sobukwe there is a room for both whites and blacks at the rendezvous of victory, while for me there is room only for Africans both at home and abroad at the rendezvous of victory. My stance is in line with Garvey’s slogan “Africa for the Africans both at home and abroad”. In other words, my ideological approach is Garveyite. What is the basis of my different stance? I now turn to the second part of this piece to explicate the basis of my stance.
Race-First Pan-Africanism and the ties that bind; let the circle be closed
We must inspire and promulgate a doctrine of our own without any apologies to the powers that be. The right is ours and God’s. Let contrary sentiment and cross opinions go to the winds. Opposition to race independence is the weapon of the enemy to defeat the hopes of an unfortunate people. We are entitled to our own opinions and not obliged to or bound by the opinions of others. (Garvey p 157, my italics)
Before I even commence my analysis, I have to make it clear that I subscribe to Marcus Garvey’s version of Pan-Africanism. Chinweizu explains very well and succinctly the difference between different forms of Pan-Africanism. According to Chinweizu, there is the Duboisian Integrationist Pan-Africanism which sees as its objective the ultimate integration between whites and blacks. And there is also Nkrumah’s continentalist version, which pursues Arab and Black co-operation as envisaged by Cheikh Anta Diop in his book called Black Africa: the politics of a federated Africa, which is highly useful for the purpose of industrialisation and attainment of Power; except for its exhortation of “Afro-Arab co-operation” which is misguided. I personally reject Nkrumah’s and Dubois’s version of Pan-Africanism.
Garvey’s version of Pan-Africanism is about African Power through economic industrialisation and military organisation which seek to protect and ensure the biological survival of Africans. In other words, it is about Africans to the exclusion of those who are not Africans. Whites and Arabs are excluded from the category of what counts as African. This exclusion is in line with Lembede’s Africanist tradition or Africanism. In the words, of Mabogo More, it is about “Black Solidarity” which is in line with Kwame Ture’s project and politics of Black Power. Garvey’s Pan-Africanism is historically grounded in the fact that the encounter between Africans and Arabs and Europeans made one thing clear and that is it is about Racial Power. In a nutshell, it is not about equality and inclusion, it is rather about who has Power, who exercises it, for whose benefit and at whose expense.
In other words, the emphasis is on race, which is the African race. This is what Garvey has to say in this regard:
Let no voice but your own speak to you from the depths. Let no influence but your own rouse you in time of peace and time of war; hear all, but attend only to that which concerns you. Your allegiance shall be to your God, then to your family, race and country. Remember always that the Jew in his political and economic urge is always first a Jew; the white man is first a white man under all circumstances, and you can do no less than being first and always a Negro, and then all else will take care of itself. Let no one inoculate you with evil doctrines to suit their own conveniences. There is no humanity before that which starts with yourself, “Charity begins at home.” First, to thyself be true, and “thou canst not then be false to any man.” (Garvey in African Fundamentalism, my italics)
White supremacy is a war declared by whites against the African race. The declaration of this began as early as 1441 with the capture of Africans by the Portuguese in West Africa. By then arabs had already declared war against the African race, they did this as early as 640 AD when they conquered Egypt. In other words, the exigent problem which the African Race is faced with is white supremacy as a form of anti-black racial war. In North Africa the African race is facing Arab settler colonialism and Imperialism, and in the Southern tip of the continent the African race is facing the scourge of white settler colonialism and Imperialism at the hands of the white settlers who declared war on all fronts against the African race as early as 1652.
As a result of the declaration of war against the African race, Africans were forcefully transported to the arab world and the Americas. Columbus provided the reason (by opening up the so-called new world) why the African race had to be transported to the Americas to be dehumanised and exploited at the hands of white criminals and immoral warmongers. The African race has since then identified with their continent of origin. Many Africans committed suicide while being kidnapped by white raiders. Those who landed in the Americas wanted to return to their motherland. In other words, the African race which went through the ‘middle passage’ retained their Africanity. As Robinson in The Invention of the Negro puts it:
At this point in history, slavery and the slave trade were essential components of the modern world-system. But from the initiation of the English part of the system, there had been those opposed to it. The trials of rebels in the colonies in the early seventeenth century provide testimony of one sort of resistance: rebellions by servants and slaves. (Robinson, p 314)
And that in their rebellion against white criminals, they have preserved their humanity. And that rebellion against the immoral social relation created by the white raiders is a critique both at the cultural and political level of racism/white supremacy. In other words, the African race should realise that the encounter between the Africans and whites made one thing clear, which is captured by Garvey when he states:
“The attitude of the white race is to subjugate, to
exploit, and if necessary exterminate the weaker peoples with whom they come in
contact. They subjugate first, if the weaker peoples will stand for it; then exploit, and if
they will not stand SUBJUGATION nor EXPLOITATION, the other recourse is
On the basis of this political analysis of white supremacy, African Nationalism which focuses exclusively on the African race is the only ideological stance which the Africans must use to destroy white Power and create Black Power without whites and arabs. In the words of John Henrik Clarke, the African race has to learn to practice the “selfishness of survival”. Clarke has posited that when one reads the history of the encounter between the Africans and other races, the Africans who have acted as hosts to these races which were guests, suffered as a result of their generosity to this foreigners who came to the continent with sinister intentions. And because we didn’t know their sinister intention and we did not have sinister intentions we assumed that they will treat us the way we treated them. What the Africans failed to understand and still do today is the mentality of the whites or the european mind which is different from the African mind. This is mainly due to history, culture and the world-view as Diop discussed them in The Cultural Unity of Black Africa.
The Africans in America retained their consciousness of Africa. This is the argument maintained by Magubane in his book called The Ties That Bind. This fact is demonstrated, historically speaking, by Martin Delany and Robert Campbell who wanted way before Marcus Garvey the repatriation of the Africans in America to Africa. These are the key African figures who envisioned the regeneration of Africa after it was ravaged by what Chinweizu calls “the Black Chattelization War, or the Anti-Black Race War”. This Anti-Black Race War as a result of the ties that bind led to Pan-Africanism which I posit is the beginning of the circle that I am referring to. This is the circle of the slogan of Garvey’s Pan Africanism; which is “Africa for the Africans, those at home and abroad”. This is what Tony Martin has to say in this regard:
The great tragedy of 1441 can be taken as a convenient point of departure on the road that led eventually to modern Pan-Africanism. In that year, sea-borne Portuguese marauders kidnapped a few Africans on the West African coast and set sail for Portugal. In 1502 some of the newly enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic from the Iberian Peninsula to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Later arrivals came directly from Africa to the Americas. These were the opening stages of our “maafa,” our holocaust of enslavement, the transatlantic slave trade. Despite the fact that slavery had existed since time immemorial in most societies, the transatlantic slave trade was qualitatively different from what had gone before. It was chattel slavery, in which a concerted effort was made to dehumanize its unfortunate victims. It was also the transatlantic slave trade, as opposed to similar trade to Asia or elsewhere, which produced the beginnings of the modern Pan-African movement. (Tony Martin p 1)
The fundamental objective of this movement as explained by John Henrik Clarke, in a book called Who Betrayed the African Revolution, is to get back what slavery and colonialism had taken away from the Africans. In the words of Sobukwe:
“Mayibuye i Afrika,” that is the cry ringing throughout the Continent. Africa for the Africans! Izwe Lethu – i Africa! Those are the words that spell the doom of white supremacy in Africa. (Sobukwe p 17, my italics)
The circle in my opinion began with what Tony Martin calls proto-Pan-Africanism when the African wanted to regain their humanity and freedom through the consciousness that they are Africans and that Africa is their home. It is my argument, therefore, that this circle will be closed through Black Power in the form of the creation of a strong African Nation with economic and military power and the elimination of white and Arab settlers from Africa which will be followed by some Africans abroad and at home resettling on these lands formerly occupied by these enemies of blacks.
In the words of Marcus Garvey:
Remember, we live, work and pray for the establishing of a great and binding racial hierarchy, the founding of a racial empire whose only natural, spiritual and political limits shall be God and “Africa, at home and abroad.”
The gist of the argument which will be solidified in the next section of this piece is that there is a room at the rendezvous of victory only for the Africans those at home and abroad. This victory is the destruction of white supremacy in the form of arab settler colonialism in North Africa and white settler colonialism in Southern Africa. Thus, finally Africans will be able to do as Marcus Garvey advised a long time ago; which is:
“[T]he Negro peoples of the world should concentrate upon the object of
building up for themselves a great nation in Africa. . . [of] creating for
ourselves [there] a political superstate . . . a government, a nation of our own,
strong enough to lend protection to the members of our race scattered all
over the world, and to compel the respect of the nations and races of the
earth. . . .”(Garvey, my italics)
Nyerere, Pan-Africanism and Black consciousness
What blacks are doing is merely respond to a situation in which they find themselves the objects of white racism. We are in the position in which we are because of our skin. We are collectively segregated against – what can be more logical than for us to respond as a group. (Biko, my italics)
In this section I want to demonstrate that as a result of land dispossession both in North Africa and Southern Africa, Africans are now concentrated in the sub-Saharan region. This is a reflection of our powerlessness and the power of the arab and white settlers who have conquered us at different periods in history. White supremacy established itself in the form of the dispersion of whites all over the globe from as early as the 1500s. The arabs on the other hand dispersed themselves on the African continent as early as 640 AD with the conquest of Egypt, the land of our highly civilised ancestors. In other words, as a result of both arab and european population dispersions, the Africans are confronted with Pan-Europeanism and Pan-Arabism.
Pan-Arabism has included the enslavement of the Africans in North Africa and the occupation of lands previously owned by the Africans and the attempt to depopulate these lands to make room for the arabs from the arab World to take these lands. Pan-Arabism in other words is what I designate Arab Power which is detrimental to the biological survival of the Africans. Lest we forget Agyeman reminds us as follows:
The Arabs played a role in the invasions and conquests that wrought destruction on the ancient Black Kingdoms and empires of North-East Africa, as well as on the West African Black states of Ghana, Mali and Songhay. The Arab slave trade in Africa was a destructive force that raged from the 9th through the 19th centuries in the Eastern seaboard of Africa, both preceding and outlasting even the transatlantic slave trade on the West Coast. The Arabs made depredations on the Sudan through the murderous campaigns of Muhammed Ali at the beginning of the 19th century, and joined in the European Scramble for Africa in the latter part of the same century in an effort, once again, to carve out an African empire for themselves. Through this nexus of social, economic and political assaults, the relations between Arabs and Africans took on the confirmed asymmetry of victimizer and victim. (Agyeman p 2)
It is my view that these Black kingdoms were nothing but political institutions of Black Power on the African continent. This is how Agyeman explains Pan-Arabism:
And what is Pan-Arabism? In a word, it is an ideological-political movement representing a conscious effort to create a united Arab nation. Its underlying principle is that the Arab states are parts of one indivisible Arab nation. (Agyeman p 3)
Many arab leaders have expressed the spirit of Pan-Arabism including Gaddafi, who has confused a lot of Africans by masquerading as an African and pushing the interests of the African race. This is what Nasser has to say:
We are one Arab nation. Both our constitution and the Iraqi Provisional Constitution provide in their articles that we are one Arab nation. Accordingly, every Arab state has the right to defend Iraq’s Arabhood and independence from Britain, the USA, the USSR, and all other countries. We are one Arab family in a boat caught in the tempest of international politics. (quoted in Agyeman p 3)
This is what Gaddafi declared:
“The third of the Arab community living outside Africa should move in with the twothirds
on the continent and join the African Union ‘which is the only space we have.’”
–Col. Mouammar Gaddafi of Libya, according to a Pan African News Agency report of 28
The history of Pan-Europeanism in Southern Africa is well known. White settler colonialism which the indigenous people in “Southern Africa” tried to deal with is just a more famous example. What I think is the least known aspect of Pan-Europeanism is the vastness of Afrikaner farms in what is now called south Africa. The British and the Boers/Afrikaners fought two european intertribal wars on the African land which are called South African wars.
Even though these wars demonstrated that there might be squabbles between these european settler-tribes, the Peace Treaty of Vereeniging proved to be an example of what I call Pan-Europeanism. In 1902, after these intertribal wars between these two factions of white supremacists, there was an agreement to stop these wars which fragmented white Power. This was in order to facilitate the white supremacist project of making “south Africa” a white man’s country. In other words, Pan-Europeanism is white nationalism which can only be negated by an equal force of African Nationalism.
The coming together of these europeans marked the consolidation of white settler colonialism in Southern Africa. This also proves that settler colonialism needs whites just as these whites have demonstrated to need settler colonialism. Orania is an example of how these whites would like to continue what they agreed upon during the creation of the Union of South Africa; which is to make south Africa the white man’s world. They did all this knowing that white supremacy as a global system of white Power will support them and it did, the history thereof is well known. These european tribes decided to combine their efforts of settler colonialism in order to deal effectively with what they called “the native problem” or the black danger which is nothing but a racist invention by these conquerors of our ancestors. Like their arab counterpart in North Africa, these whites through their project of conquest also destroyed “black civilization” in the words of Williams. They destroyed like the arabs, although at different time-periods, political institutions of Black Power.
So where does this leave the African race on the land of their ancestors? The African race is under siege from both the Northern side and the Southern side of the continent. In other words, the Africans are caught in between the forces of arab settler colonialism and white settler colonialism. On the basis of this political and historical analysis, the logical conclusion is that arabs and whites are not our friends or allies. These people are our everlasting enemies, in the words of the Watchman. This simply means that as Africans we are on our own. This is what Nyerere has to say in this regard:
Africa, South of the Sahara is different, totally different. . . . Africa South of the Sahara is isolated. That is the first point I want to make. Africa South of the Sahara is totally isolated in terms of that configuration of developing power in the world of the 21st Century — on its own. There is no centre of power in whose self-interest it’s important to develop Africa, no centre. Not North America, not Japan, not Western Europe. There’s no self-interest to bother about Africa South of the Sahara. Africa South of the Sahara is on its own. Na sijambo baya. Those of you who don’t know Swahili, I just whispered, “Not necessarily bad”. . . . That’s the first thing I wanted to say about Africa South of the Sahara. African leadership, the coming African leadership, will have to bear that in mind. You are on your own . . . (Nyerere quoted in Chinweizu)
This means that the fact of us being Africans should be the fundamental basis upon which we fight these everlasting enemies. Lest we forget Chinweizu reminds us that:
Having lost a clear and detailed sense of our identity, we have naturally also lost our ability to create a point of view of the world strictly our own. With our scrambled sense of reality we have forgotten how to see things in terms of our separate and concrete interests. . . . Worse still we behave as if it were some sort of betrayal to discover and insist on our own point of viewing the world.
Our Pan-Africanism should be driven by what John Henrik Clarke calls the “essential selfishness of survival” and on the firm basis of the African race first. This is very important because as things stand our very biological survival as the African race has been in question for centuries, as explicated by Williams in The Destruction of Black Civilization. We, as the African race, clearly have to heed the advice of Lembede who made it clear that as Africans we are our own liberators. African warrior nationalist initiated the national liberation struggle against white settler colonialism. In the words of Sobukwe:
We are met here today to commemorate our National Heroes’ Day. We are today going down the corridor of time and renewing our acquaintance with the heroes of Africa’s past — those men and women who nourished the tree of African freedom and independence with their blood; those great Sons and Daughters of Africa who died in order that we may be free in the land of our birth. We are met here, today, to rededicate our lives to the cause of Africa, to establish contact, beyond the grave, with the great African heroes and to assure them that their struggle was not in vain. We are met here, Sons and Daughters of our beloved land, to drink from the fountain of African achievement, to remember the men and women who begot us, to remind ourselves of where we come from and to restate our goals. We are here to draw inspiration from the heroes of Thaba Bosiu, Isandlwana, Sandile’s Kop, Keiskama Hoek and numerous other battlefields where our forefathers fell before the bullets of the foreign invader. We are here to draw inspiration from the Sons and Daughters of Africa who gave their all to the cause and were physically broken in the struggle. We are met here, Sons and Daughters of Africa, to take a trowel in our right hand and a shield and sword in our left, to commence the tremendous task of rebuilding the walls of Africa! (Sobukwe p 18, my italics)
Because only we as Africans will liberate ourselves from white supremacy; beyond white supremacy we should live together only as Africans to the exclusion of whites whom we exclude at the political level of organisation (stage of national liberation) against white supremacy. Put differently, we should exclude whites both organisationally and nationally. I now turn to the last section in which I solidify this thesis.
Garvey and African Nationalism: So much worse for the whites?
The Other races have countries of their own and it is time for the 400,000,000 Negroes to claim Africa for themselves” (Garvey quoted in Edwin S Redkey p 395, my italics)
We knew he had no right to be there; we wanted to remove him from our table…… (Biko my italics)
Having lost a clear and detailed sense of our identity, we have naturally also lost our ability to create a point of view of the world strictly our own. With our scrambled sense of reality we have forgotten how to see things in terms of our separate and concrete interests. . . . Worse still we behave as if it were some sort of betrayal to discover and insist on our own point of viewing the world. (Chinweizu, my italics)
At best . . . blacks see whiteness as a concept that warrants being despised, hated, destroyed and replaced……. (Biko my italics)
This section will further solidify my thesis that there is no room for both whites and blacks, or the Africans and the Europeans, at the rendezvous of victory. My approach in this final section is Race-First Pan-African Nationalism influenced by Marcus Garvey. Put differently, I want to foreground the fact that Garvey unlike both Biko and Sobukwe subscribed to Race-First Pan-Africanism. The only African Nationalist in Azania whom I think subscribed to Garveysim is Muziwakhe Lembede. This is what Lembede has to say in this regard:
Africa is a black man’s country. Africans are the natives of Africa and they have inhabited Africa, their Motherland, from times immemorial; Africa belongs to them. (Lembede)
The best expression of the sentiment of African Nationalism by Lembede is the following:
As it is with individuals, so it is with nations. Each nation has its own peculiar unique character which no other nation in the world possesses or can possess. Each nation has thus its own peculiar talents and potentialities to develop and to realise. Each nation has its own peculiar contribution to make towards the general progress, welfare and happiness of mankind. (Lembede)
This is how Sabelo Sibanda, in Pan-Africanism and Afrikan Nationalism: Putting the Afrikan Nation in Context, aptly summaries the essence of African Nationalism:
The position of the Pan-Afrikanists is that the nation aspect of the Afrikan Nation is given credence and weight by, amongst others, the following factors:
- Afrikan people, regardless of whether they were born and live on the
continent of Afrika or not, originate from the same Afrikan ancestral
heritage and therefore are members of the same nation.
- Afrikan people have a common Motherland, a land of their own,
- In more ways than one, albeit with different emphases, in as far as
manifestation is concerned, Afrikan people share a similar culture.
- Despite, again, different emphases, Afrikan people have highly similar
experiences of racism, exploitation and the quest for freedom, thus
meaning that, in more ways than one, Afrikan people’s history is the same. (Sibanda p 241, my italics)
The point that I am making is that as Africans we need to see each other as a family and connect ourselves to our ancestors to the exclusion of whites who are foreigners. In terms of the African Nationalism that I am subscribing to, we should not entertain the idea of integrating whites in our African Nation which is ancestral in origin. Our first priority is to restore and secure our African Nationhood by destroying white supremacy. In other words, the interest of us as indigenous people or Africans should have primacy over those of whites. As Raboroko puts it in the Africanist Case:
The crucial issue today is whether the interests of the five million Europeans throughout Africa must continue to dominate over those of the two hundred and eighty million Africans, or whether the reverse process should obtain. This is an issue that no social philosophy pretending to have a solution for Africa’s social problem can afford to gloss over. Nationalism demands that the interests of indigenous peoples should dominate over those of aliens, because the country belongs to the indigenous people. (Raboroko p 25, my italics)
In my opinion, the destruction of white supremacy will be followed by a process of reconstruction in which we as Indigenous people need to reaffirm our African identity, culture, dignity and consciousness which were brutally attacked by whites throughout the centuries of the psychological violence of white supremacy. There are many Africans who have been psychologically victimised by white supremacy who will need the immediate attention of African Nationalism. Once we have restored African Nationhood I think that it will not be necessary to extend citizenship rights to Europeans. If some whites choose to embrace African culture as Sobukwe posited, we can congratulate them by telling them to go to Europe to educate their fellow Europeans.
As Garvey puts it:
“The Negro has got to develop apart, and create his own government and industrial foundation” (Martin p 307)
This strong African Nation should be racially exclusive, and this is the meaning of Race-First approach as opposed to abstract humanism. We cannot simply be idealistic and ignore the existence of racial feelings amongst people in the world who accumulate and protect each other on the basis of racial collective power and solidarity. In an ideal world maybe blacks and whites can co-exist, but for the past 500 centuries the history of whites has taught us that they are the enemies of blacks. We have to view these whites not abstractly but on the basis of their historical record. As Garvey puts it gain:
“The attitude of the white race is to subjugate, to
exploit, and if necessary exterminate the weaker peoples with whom they come in
contact. They subjugate first, if the weaker peoples will stand for it; then exploit, and if
they will not stand SUBJUGATION nor EXPLOITATION, the other recourse
The Europeans must have their own Europe and we will have our own Africa as our land by ancestral right since time immemorial. As Sibanda puts it:
The crux of the matter really, is that, it is most paramount that the
Global Afrikan Family, as much as possible, be on the same page on issues
to do with the race and on questions of interpreting itself for the benefit
of its own people. (Sibanda p 237)
Tony Martin in Race-First had this to say in this regard:
Garvey saw Africa essentially as the only place where black people could launch a successful bid for equality with other races and nations. Africa was the black man’s ancestral home, he was still in a majority there, the continent was rich in natural resources, and with some technical help from black people in other areas a determined drive for equality would have the best chances of success there. And if the black man became powerful in Africa this would necessarily raise his status all over the world. (Martin p 133)
We will be crude in our idealism and utopianism if we think that by simply destroying white supremacy at the institutional level that we will automatically eliminate it at the unconscious level. Whites will not automatically stop to regard us as not human. My point is that, psychoanalytically speaking, even if whites were to embrace African culture and accept African majority rule there will still be the “white psychological remainder” which will be the basis of their “unconscious or latent racism”. In other words, whites are “irredeemable”. This is what one of these whites in Paradoxes of The Other (Post) Colonial Racism, Racial Difference, and Stereotype-as-Fetish had to say in this regard:
One of the challenges in understanding racism is exactly the question of how racist attitudes and beliefs seem quite able to function at the level of co-existing irreconcilable ideas. How is it, to give a concrete example, that the racist subject may be divided, between a (genuinely) professed view of racial tolerance, on the one hand, and undeniably racist behaviour and ideation, on the other, both of which exists on a rational and conscious level of functioning. Importantly, such contradictions may not simply be accounted for in terms of affect versus rational idea. In disavowal we may have attitudes which fit in with current wishes/anxieties, on the one hand, and attitudes which fit in with reality, on the other, existing side by side. If we take seriously the notion of disavowal, such contradictions of ideas may be more than simply a case of disingenuousness, resembling more closely the compromise of a defence……Thinking racism in terms of disavowal brings with it another implication: that racism functioning at this level is very difficult to eradicate. Why so? Well, because the racist has more often than not already assimilated the lesson of anti-racism. Disavowal works, as suggested above, by being a less than fully adaptive attempt at adapting to a threatening state of affairs, by saying, as Slavoj Žižek (1992) often mimes: I believe x, I just choose, every once in a while, to believe not x anyway. Each attempt to transform this racist logic is met with the same re-implication of structure: another acknowledgement of the fact that, oh yes, racial differences, whatever they might mean, don’t matter, of course not, that much is clearly understood, I just chose to act every now and again (nonetheless) as if they do. (Hook p 18, my italics)
The idealism and utopianism of giving whites conditions such as loyalty to Africa and accepting African majority rule, in my opinion, is a dilution of the Garveyite Africa for Africans position and runs the risk of creating a situation where:
One can repeatedly challenge the racist with the proof of racial equality in all the ways that matter, without making the slightest dent on their racist perceptions, because after all, they have already acknowledged that race makes no difference, they just opt to act as if it did, anyway. (Hook p19, my italics)
As Mabogo More puts it in Universalism and Particularism in South Africa:
To deny that “races” exist, as for example Sobukwe does, offers………only the frail reassurance that there should not be a problem….Yet there is a problem and it cannot be wished away….(More p 42)
Garveyite Pan-Africanism is not some form of “anti-racist racism”, thus even beyond white supremacy the African race will remain and be the only basis of an African Nation which will be open to only Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. This will be in line with what the Africans in Haiti did after fighting successfully the forces of white supremacy; they declared a free and independent Haiti a refuge for all the blacks around the world and granted them citizenship. This is what Jacob H Carruthers in Intellectual Warfare states about Dessalines, one of the greatest leaders of the Haitian Revolution:
Dessalines asserted that never again would a European enter Haiti as a proprietor or colonist. He also raised the question: What have we in common with that bloody-minded people? He continued by asserting: Their cruelties compared with our moderation…plainly tell us they are not our brethren, that they will never become such. (Carruthers p 27, my italics)
In the final analysis Garvey advices us that:
…..the white man is first a white man under all circumstances, and you can do no less than being first and always a Negro (an African), and then all else will take care of itself. Let none inoculate you with evil doctrines to suit their own conveniences. There is no humanity before that which starts with yourself. Charity begins at home. First to thyself be true and thou canst not then be false to any man. (Garvey p 158, my italics)
By Masilo Lepuru