There is however, a semblance of a potential threat, looming on the distant horizon, which might introduce a possibility of an African Continent divided into two parts, along theological lines. On one side are those who embraced Islam; and the other, those who embraced Judeo-Christian traditions, African traditional religions, others and atheists.
Darfur theological and ethnic complications contain some pointers to the future development of Africa, in respect of Arabs versus ‘native’ Africans. The question is implied – ‘Is Africa to be governed by a ‘Pan-African ideology?’ or ‘Pan-Arab ideology?’ ‘Can Pan-Africanism and Pan-Arabism co-exist peacefully in a modern and integrated Africa in the long run?’
What are the historical indicators? Currently there are two main organisations which are of relevance here - the Arab League (popular name for the League of Arab States) and the African Union.
The Arab League
Seven states formed the Arab League on 22 March 1945. The original charter members were Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan (now Jordan), Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. A representative of Palestinian Arabs, although he did not sign the charter because he represented no recognised government, was given full status and a vote in the Arab League.
Current members are: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
The League defined its main goals as to: “Serve the common good of all Arab countries, ensure better conditions for all Arab countries, guarantee the future of all Arab countries and fulfil the hopes and expectations of all Arab countries.” Most of the members of the Arab League subscribe to the Islamic faith and Shariah law.
Organisation of the Islamic Conference
All Arab League members are also members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), (Arabic: منظمة المؤتمر ا), was set up in Rabat, Morocco, on 25 September 1969 in reaction to an arson attack against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on 21 August 1969.
The primary goals of the OIC are "to promote solidarity among all member states; to consolidate cooperation among member states in economic, social, cultural, scientific, and other fields of activity; to endeavour to eliminate racial segregation and discrimination and to oppose colonialism in all its forms; to support the Palestinian people in their struggle to regain their national rights and to return to their homeland; and, to support all Muslim people in their struggle to safeguard their dignity, independence and national rights."
On 5 August 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) adopted The ‘Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI)’, as an Islamic counterpart of and a response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The declaration was “to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights.” The Declaration starts by forbidding "any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations".
The purpose of the Africa Union, on the other hand, “ is to help secure Africa's democracy, human rights, and a sustainable economy, especially by bringing an end to intra-African conflict and creating an effective common market” Most of the members of the AU are of mixed faiths – traditional African religions, Christianity, Islam and Secular. Most practise non-Shariah law.
Members of the AU: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic had Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea,. Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritiu, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Western Sahara (SADR), São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan ,Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Morocco left predecessor organisation in 1984 and Mauritania, (currently suspended following a coup d'état).
As noted, there is an overlap of membership of the Arab League and the African Union. The following African based nations are both members of the Arab League and AU: Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Somalia, Djibouti and, Comoros. Eritrea has ‘observer’ membership. The tone and tenure of the Arab League are different from those of the AU.
The AU’s tone and tenure are underpinned by multi cultural reciprocity for both ‘native’ Africans and Arabs. Not so in the case of the Arab league’s, as demonstrated by the behaviour of some of its members, in the manner in which ‘native’ Africans, are treated, as in the case of Sudan, and other parts of Africa, where Arabs governed and ‘native’ Africans are in the minority.
It is believed that there is a potential for real and lasting division among Africa’s diverse populations, which could well be exploited in the medium and long term by strategic, geo-political and hegemonic internal and external forces.
‘War on Terror’ Fallout in Africa
The current so-called ‘war on terror’ and the medium and long germ residual effects may be forerunners for an induced divided Africa, on theological and ‘ethnic’ grounds, if there were no substantive, deep and irrevocable improvements in Arab-African relationships on the Continent.
Arab and South Saharan African Leadership must now address this thorny and potentially divisive issue. It cannot be ignored. Great Arab Statesman and visionary, like Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, the Libyan Leader, who worked tirelessly for a United Africa, clearly understand the importance of an Africa of equals, where Arabs, Africans and others, play their part in making the Continent and its Diaspora strong. Colonel Gaddafi, and other like minded Arabs, realise that racism or ‘ethnic cleansing’ will not achieve Africa’s full potential.
As it was noted in Darfur, there is a fundamental problem in the way many Semitic Arabs viewed Africans. There seem to be a deep and irrational mind set of racial antipathy against ‘native’ Africans, probably developed over many centuries as a result of the Arabs indulgence in historical Slave Trade.
Arabs, as Europeans and those in the Americas, need to make public apologies and pay reparations to Africans for past and current wrongs. It is clear that, Islam had not isolated African Muslims from Arab racism.
Protracted carnage and mass displacements of large populated areas, numbering millions, as witnessed in Darfur, Western Sudan, orchestrated by an Arab Regime in Khartoum, had no equivalent in modern African history, mindful of centuries of Arabs and European enterprises in abducting and enslaving Africans; Germany’s Namibia and the Herero people, Rwanda and apartheid South Africa. A brief reminder is given below, in respect to slavery, the Herero people, apartheid South Africa, Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda.
Abduction, forceful transportation and colonisation 1450-1888
In November 2006, The Rt. Honourable Tony Blair, MP, PC, Britain’s Prim Minister issued a state of apology for Britain’s involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, in her transporting of Africans to the Americas, the ‘new world’, during the 16th to 19th century.
Britain designated 25 Mach 2007 as a national occasion, for a formal commemoration of her slave trading past, with a focus on the Imperial British Parliament‘s enactment of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, on 25 March 1807.
According to a recent British newspaper article: “Estimates vary that between 10 and 28 million Africans were sent to the Americas and sold into slavery between 1450 and the early 19th century. By then Britain was the dominant trader, transporting more than 300,000 slaves a year in shackles on disease-ridden boats.” This conservative estimate of 28 million is disputed, certainty by the UNESCO Conference held at Porte de Prince, Haiti, in the Caribbean, on 31 January 1978 to 4 February 1978. The number given at that Conference was 210 million.
Centuries of slavery, colonisations and material exploitations, of Black Africans cannot be healed and put behind us by mere platitudes.
It is recognised that Britain was not alone in carrying on the trading in African bodies. Great Britain, having passed her slave abolition Acts, became a determined abolitionist power after 1833, using the Royal Navy to stop ships suspected of being slavers.
Congratulation to Britain for her courage in calling attention formally to her past role in Slavery and, hopefully, positive fruits will be generated from her Bicentenary events throughout 2007 and specifically on 25 March 2007. The next step is for Britain to pay reparations.
It cannot be forgotten, however, that for over three hundred years during the Slave Trade, Africa was depopulated. The cultural and inventive rhythms of an entire Continent were disrupted significantly by Europeans and Arabs, partly supported by Jewish financiers, and a tiny minority of native collaborators. Collaborators are found in all nations, during the past, the present and it will be so in the future.
Samuel Maharero, the paramount chief of the Herero, in Namibia, South West Africa, declared war on German colonialists in January 1904, after his people had suffered under foreign rule, oppression and land expropriation for 20 years. The war ended several months later after the Battle of Waterberg, and the mostly unsuccessful attempt of the Herero to flee into neighbouring Bechuanaland, now Botswana.
In October the same year, General Lothar von Trotha, the German troops' commander-in-chief, issued his "extermination order" for the annihilation of the Herero people. About 60,000, or 80 percent, of the Herero died as they fled or were put to hard labour in concentration camps. Also massacred were an estimated 10,000 Nama and 17,000 Damara peoples. Survivors were chased from their land.
Apartheid South Africa 1948-1990
Whites ruled South Africa since the first Dutch settlers arrived in the 1650s. In 1902, the British seized control of South Africa, defeating the Dutch settlers as well as the Zulus and other native African tribes. In 1910, the British officially made South Africa a colony in its empire.
From the beginning, white settlers denied the native African majority economic and political power. Only members of the white minority could vote and hold political office. After the British took control, white settlers drove blacks from the most productive lands.
The Group, The Bill of Rights in Action (BRA), stated in its recent on-line publication, “by 1936, whites composed about 20 percent of the population of South Africa. The black majority, consisting of several African tribes, made up about 70 percent. The remaining 10 percent were immigrants from India and mixed-race persons, called ‘Coloureds.’"
Following World War II, South Africa achieved independence along with other British colonies. In 1948, white voters put the National Party in control of the South African government. The National Party represented the Afrikaners, descendants of the early Dutch settlers. Afrikaners made up a majority of South African whites (but only 12 percent of the total population). The National Party clearly stated its purpose in one of its publications: "The preservation of the pure race tradition of the [Afrikaner people] must be protected at all costs in all possible ways as a holy pledge entrusted to us by our ancestors as part of God's plan with our People."
BRA continued – “With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of ``white-only'' jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or coloured (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. Classification into these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance, and descent. For example, a white person was defined as ``in appearance obviously a white person or generally accepted as a white person. A person could not be considered white if one of his or her parents were non-white.
“ The determination that a person was ``obviously white'' would take into account ``his habits, education, and speech and deportment and demeanour.'' A black person would be of or accepted as a member of an African tribe or race, and a coloured person is one that is not black or white. The Department of Home Affairs (a government bureau) was responsible for the classification of the citizenry. Non-compliance with the race laws were dealt with harshly. All blacks were required to carry ``pass books'' containing fingerprints, photo and information on access to non-black areas,” BRA wrote.