In his ‘Guide to African History’, Alistair Boddy-Evans wrote – “During most of the 20th century, South Africa was ruled by a system called Apartheid, which was based on the segregation of races. The term comes from an Afrikaans word meaning 'apartness'. During the 1960s, racial discrimination applied to most aspects of life in South Africa and Banstustans were created for Blacks. The system had evolved into 'Grand Apartheid'. The country was rocked by the Sharpeville Massacre, the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) were banned, and the country withdrew from the British Commonwealth and declared a Republic on 31 May 1961. Apartheid was reinvented during the 1970s and 80s, a result of increasing internal and international pressures, and worsening economic difficulties. Black youth was exposed to increasing politicisation, and found expression against 'Bantu education' through the 1976 Soweto Uprising. Despite the creation of a tricameral parliament in 1983 and the abolition of the Pass Laws in 1986, the 1980s saw the worst political violence by both sides.”
Alister Boddy-Evans continued: “ Over the decades, various forms of legislation were introduced which extended the existing segregation against Blacks to Coloureds and Indians. The most significant acts were the Group Areas Act No 41 of 1950 which led to over three million people being relocated through forced removals, the Suppression of Communism Act No 44 of 1950 which was so broadly worded that almost any dissident group could be 'banned', the Bantu Authorities Act No 68 of 1951 which led to the creation of Bantustans (and ultimately 'independent' homelands), and the Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act No 67 of 1952 which, despite its title, led to the rigid application of Pass Laws.”
There had been ‘a coalition of the willing’ over several decades to fight injustice and discrimination in ‘enlightened’ societies. One of the coalitions that is of immediate interest, here, consists of - The Anti-Jim Crow Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, The Black Conscious Movement and the Nation of Islam, in the Americas; The Anti—Apartheid Movement and The Pan-African Movement in the Caribbean and Africa, including the Rasta Movement; various Student Movements; The Anti-Colonial Movement, The Anti-Imperialist Movement, The Socialist and Communist Movements, in Asia and Europe; African and Caribbean Independent Movement, in Africa, the Caribbean and South America; and the World Church Movement, consciously and unconsciously, collectively and individually motivated by commitments to liberty, justice and fraternity, working in partnerships during the 1920s 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The beacon is still lit. Partnership working continues today, to challenge, contain and push the processes of defeating racism, apartheid, xenophobia, fascism, colonialism, imperialisms, intolerances and oppressions at home and abroad.
Common factors experienced by oppressed contemporary Africans at home and abroad are racism, injustice and oppressions. Confidence is always present, a belief that the oppressors will be defeated by the oppressed. With that in mind, based on the evidence, the oppressed were and are, prepared to pay whatever price to achieve victory.
The Africans in Africa and in the Diaspora, along with their allies, worked collectively, sharing ideas, organisation strategies, providing publicity for the Cause, giving funds and providing technical support and education grants, shelter and employment, where needed, to maintain the movements’ strengths and resistance to defeated racism, apartheid and associated injustices.
Africans in Africa and the Diaspora suffered and paid with their many lives, as they resisted heartless racism, injustice and induced sectarian conflicts. In talking to the elders who fought racism, apartheid and injustice in Africa and the Diaspora, one is struck by their confidence. If they were certain of nothing else, they were certain that they would defeat those who oppressed and caused discord among Africans. They fervently believe that they would open a new path for future generations.
In February 1990 President FW de Klerk announced the release of Nelson Mandela, one of the principals of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. That release began the slow dismantling of the Apartheid system. In 1992 a whites-only referendum approved the reform process. In 1994 the first democratic elections were held in South Africa, with people of all races being able to vote. A Government of National Unity was formed, with Nelson Mandela as President and FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki as Deputy Presidents.
At his presidential inauguration on 10 May 1994, President Nelson Mandela, age 75, pleaded for unity among the racial groups that had been so bitterly divided during the decades of apartheid. He said: “We understand there is no easy road to freedom. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.” Winnie Madikizela-Mandela , another of the Anti-Apartheid Revolutionaries, was by the President’s side.
The new black majority government headed by President Mandela faced enormous challenges. The Mandela government was confronted with a black majority suffering from a dearth of land, jobs, education, housing, health care, and nutritious food. In June 1996, Mandela’s government introduced a strategy in response to the economic problems facing the nation. Called "Growth, Employment, and Redistribution," this strategy sought to encourage open markets, privatization, and a favourable investment climate through tariff reduction, subsidies, tax incentives, and increased services to the disadvantaged.
During the apartheid area, unlike white children, black children were not required to attend school. When they did seek an education, black youngsters attended inferior schools with poorly trained teachers. These school children were also forced to learn the Afrikaner language (based on Dutch). An entire generation of South Africans in their teens and twenties have been raised without education in the impoverished homelands. The main challenge of the coming decades will be for South Africa to educate and incorporate this lost generation into society before it becomes a destabilizing force.
Nelson Mandel is now in retirement and Thabo Mbeki has the Presidential Chair, after open and fair democratic elections. Africans and their allies, at home and abroad, including the Diaspora, resisted and contained crude forms of racism, apartheid and injustice, in parts of Africa and most parts of Europe and the so-called ‘New World’. The work continues.
Civil war broke out in Rwanda in 1990 when the rebels of the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPR) invaded the northern part of the country from Uganda. A peace accord was signed in August 1993 that provided for the establishment of transitional institutions. The task of monitoring this accord fell to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), headed by Canadian General Roméo Dallaire.
On April 6, 1994, the shooting down of the presidential plane carrying Presidents Habyarimana of Rwanda and Ntaryamira of Burundi triggered the Rwandan genocide. The day after the crash, a systematic massacre of over 800,000 moderate Tutsis and Hutus by the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and Interahamwe militiamen, began. UNAMIR was powerless to take effective action, especially once the UN decided to reduce its deployment to 270 men at the height of the killings. The genocide resulted in an exodus of two million refugees, mainly to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire) and Tanzania. The civil war and genocide ended on July 7, 1994, when the RPF seized power and the perpetrators of the genocide and Hutu refugees fled to DRC. A government of national unity was formed following the RPF's victory in 1994, although Paul Kagame effectively retained power.
In 1996, Rwanda, accompanied by Zairian rebels led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, invaded the camps of Hutus who had taken refuge in the eastern part of Zaire, sparking a series of conflicts involving as many as seven foreign armies. In 2002, Rwanda and the DRC signed a peace agreement forcing Rwandan troops to leave the Congo.
The Rwandan Genocide stands out as significant, not only because of the sheer number of people massacred in such a short period of time, but also because of the United Nations' (UN) inadequate response. Despite intelligence provided before the killing began, and international news media coverage of the true scale of violence as the genocide unfolded, most first-world countries including France, Belgium (which held Rwanda as a colony after World War I), and the United States declined to intervene or speak out against the planned massacres.
While the reported volume of carnage in Rwanda is greater that those reported in Darfur, the circumstances and motivation for the outrage seem dissimilar to the Darfur case. Based on the USA public pronouncement that genocide had taken place in Darfur, by Arab militia, Rwanda was evidently a fit of ‘madness’. There was no land grab, no internally displaced people, living in camps for years and there is a willingness by the parties to find reconciliation. While the UN failed the Rwandan people, lessons have been learnt. Building on that lesson, the UN is pressing for effective deployment of peace keeping troops in Darfur.
It is not possible to envisage a multi cultural United Africa while one section of the African population considers itself superior to the next. No unity can be built on that basis. “A kingdom cannot stand when it is divided”.
Potential Flash Points in the future
Africa is back into focus as the “Big Prize”, which world powers will seek to gain. Africa and Africans and their trusted and proven allies, must be vigilant always and make sensible long term strategic choices. Mindful always of the real threat to us all– ‘the green house effects and global warming’
Africa’s plentiful water supplies, oil, minerals and natural resources are likely to fuel conflict points in Africa, involving Africa’s allies and foreign powers. The nations which control the ‘lion’s share’ of Africa’s resources are the nations which will have greater influences and power over the world and its inhabitants in the future. With that in mind, it should not be a surprise to anyone that there are potential ‘powers’ with contingency plans for grabbing African’s resources.
As shown above, the USA is in dire need of ‘real’ as apposed to ‘paper’ wealth. She is living on credit, and that cannot go on for ever. A bust is inevitable, and the longer it takes to come, the more spectacular and damaging it will be, particularly to those who rely on the International Dollar Standard. The Great Depression of 1929-1939 is a real spectre with which the USA may be grappling. This is not to say that there is any evidence to suggest that the USA is actively plotting to divide Africa.
The dawn of the twenty first century is witnessing a turning of the ‘hegemonic table’ which had been the status quo for the past two hundred years. The ghost of Germany’s Chancellor Otto von Bismark’s Berlin Conference is being exorcised.
During 1884 at the request of Portugal, German chancellor Otto von Bismark called together the major western powers of the world to negotiate questions and end confusion over the control of Africa. Bismark appreciated the opportunity to expand Germany's sphere of influence over Africa and desired to force Germany's rivals to struggle with one another for territory.
Fourteen countries were represented by a plethora of ambassadors when the conference opened in Berlin on 15 November 1884. The countries represented at the time included Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814-1905), Turkey, and the United States of America. Of these fourteen nations, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal were the major players in the conference, controlling most of colonial Africa at the time.
At that Conference, Africa was divided among European powers, with devastating consequences, for Africa and Africans, at home and abroad.
African leadership, at home and abroad, is aware of the ‘new dawn.’ The agreement by African head of state to start the discussion about forming an African Union Government (AUG), is an indication of that awareness. An AUG will be on the agenda for the AU Summit in July 2007, to be held in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
The AUG proposal is appropriate to be introduced in Ghana, given that there is the birthplace of Africa’s noble Pan-Africanist, the late Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), the first President of Independent Ghana and primary initiator of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
The Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, (1887-1940) was an African born in the Diaspora and one of the fathers of Pan Africanism. His vision and the great foundation he laid in the service of Africa and Africans at home and abroad, are gradually coming to fruition.
The above catalogued some of the historical and contemporary challenges faced by Africans across the world. When Africa and her Diaspora worked in unity, much was gained. Unity in diversity must be the clarion call and bench mark for African development in the future.
Diasporans have vast resources in expertise, professionalisms, experiences, awareness, commitment and a protracted motivation to give constructive support to Africa and her development. Continental Africa and its people, who avoided historical forced transportation to the ‘new world’, currently have the opportunity to appease our common African ancestors, by reuniting the original peoples of Africa. This can be done actually and/or symbolically, and so correct the great wrong that was done in history to the African ancestors.
Africa is the Spiritual Home of all Africans and their offspring. This Home has vast challenges and opportunities. The speed with which Africa develops in future will be determined by the levels at which Africa is able to engage with her Diaspora and create settlements on the African Continent.
Self-Help News – “Giving Voice to the Voiceless”
Released 27 February 2007. Unabridged Edition. Zulu Publications in association with the Afrikan and Diaspora Institute (AaDI). Copyright reserved.