January and February are two of the saddest months for most Africans and people of African descent on the continent and in the African diaspora. The source of this melancholy is Europe and the United States of America. The recent utterances attributed to one of the leaders of these countries rubs salt into our wounds at a time when we want to reflect on the pain Europe and the United States of America has inflicted on us through centuries of white supremacy (racism), slavery, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism.
In his 1952 book, Black Skin White Masks, Frantz Fanon wrote that racism originated in Europe. Fanon continued, “At the risk of arousing the resentment of my coloured brothers, I will say that “the black is not a man.” In this statement Fanon is not arguing that black people are inhuman. Instead, he is making the point that Western ideas of humanity have been built on the foundation of anti-black racism. “Man” is supposedly a universal term, but the image of “man” created in Western culture is white. In other words, in racist societies only white people are human and people of colour are instead ‘Other’ to human, or beasts and animals. Black people don’t even get to be considered human in racist societies. That’s what it means to say “the black man is not a man.”
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalise, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
The quote above from Black Skin White Masks describes how white people react when it is proven to them that white superiority is a myth as PAC founding President Robert Sobukwe said in his 1959 inaugural address.
I wonder why Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks was not made required reading in schools in South Africa after 1994. Sobukwe’s speeches and the 1970 interview with Gail Gerhard should also have been made required reading in schools. I guess it depends on the state of mind of those who were handed a crown without the jewels in 1994.
A noted white historian, Basil Davidson wrote in 1987, “The racism that we know was born in Europe and America from the cultural need to justify doing to black people, doing to Africans, what could not morally or legally be done to white people, and least of all to Europeans. To justify the enslavement of Africans, in short, it was culturally necessary to believe, or be able to believe, that Africans were inherently and naturally less than human but were beings of a somehow sub-human, non-human, nature. That was the cultural basis, in this context, of the slave trade and of the modern imperialism in Africa which followed the slave trade.
“The consequence of this need to condemn Africans as less than human – and how otherwise justify enslaving and then invading them? – have been many and various. Among these consequences, logically enough, has been a denial of the Africans’ possible possession of histories of their own, and thus of common humanity with other peoples elsewhere. Not surprisingly, this denial began to be heard from eminent spokesmen (such as Hegel in 1830) in Europe as soon as Europe’s modern imperialism imposed a corresponding need to structure and systematise its attitudes to overseas conquest and imperialist enclosure.”
Dr Cheikh Anta Diop writes that “imperialism, like the prehistoric hunter, first killed the being spiritually and culturally, before trying to eliminate it physically. The negation of the history and intellectual accomplishments of Black Africans was cultural, mental murder, which preceded and paved the way for their genocide here and there in the world.”
This article raises the issue of the dehumanisation of Africans in order to demonstrate that even in their brutal assassinations of African leaders, western leaders and their spy agencies convince themselves that “the black man is not a man.” But listen to the same hypocrites criticising suicide bombers as ‘brutish beasts.’
On the 17th January 1961, Africa lost one of its greatest sons, Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the 20th January 1973, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau was assassinated in Conakry, Guinea. On the 3rd February 1969, Dr Eduardo Mondlane, the founder in 1962 of Frelimo and Samora Machel’s predecessor, was assassinated by a parcel bomb in Dar es Salaam. On 21st February 1965, Malcolm X succumbed under a hail of bullets at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York. On the 1st February 1974, Onkgopotse Tiro, a young Black Consciousness Movement leader was assassinated by a parcel bomb in Gaborone, Botswana. On the 27th February 1978, the founding President of the PAC, Robert Sobukwe died of what PAC members believe was a cancer induced disease. On 7th February 1986, well renowned scholar Cheikh Anta Diop died in his sleep in Senegal.
According to Karl Evanzz’s The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X - based on more than 300,000 declassified CIA and FBI documents - which I reviewed for the Times Colonist in Victoria, Canada in 1992, Lumumba was killed for his country’s resources and for fear by Dwight Eisenhower’s administration that Lumumba could expel the Rockefeller and Morgan families who controlled the Congo’s economy by virtue of their joint monopoly of the banking system. The second reason Lumumba was that under pressure from other African nations, he nullified the agreement giving Detwiler carte blanche over his nation’s critical resources. Following the revocation of the Detwiler contract, Eisenhower apparently concluded that American control of the Congo Central Bank could evaporate as quickly as the Detwiler contract. After his visit to the White House, Ambassador Claire Timberlake, Richard Nixon, Eisenhower and others who had attended the meeting with Lumumba concluded that he could not be trusted. During a National Security Meeting shortly after Lumumba’s visit, Eisenhower indicated that it would be in America’s best interest to remove Lumumba from power, (p.101).
Lumumba’s trouble began the day that he and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana signed an agreement they regarded as another step toward the creation of the United States of Africa. A year earlier, Nkrumah had signed an agreement with Sekou Toure of Guinea asking their respective parliaments to ratify a similar agreement. White supremacists held that another man had no right to do what he pleased with his country’s resources and to decide the destiny of his country. This is what Fanon refers to when he says in racist societies a black man is not regarded as human. Africa was regarded as a big zoo which one of them recently described as a “shithole.” But they are after the minerals and other resources that come from that “shithole.” They kill and die for the minerals that come from that “shithole.”
Who would believe that the CIA contracted the Mafia and criminals such as Belgian national Colonel Huyghe to execute Lumumba? Lumumba’s two aides, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, were also killed. Lumumba’s body was placed in a vat of concentrated acid supplied by the CIA and it has never been found - Britain’s MI6 spy agency which Nelson Mandela went to thank for protecting after becoming South African President and the Belgian government are accomplices in the demise of Lumumba. It’s not true that Lumumba escaped, he was lied to that her daughter was on her death bed only to be trapped, caught and killed. UN Secretary General at the time Dag Hammarskjold was privy to the plot against Lumumba and did nothing to protect him. He would later die in a mysterious plane crash.
According to (kiko-unplugge.blogspot), declassified Portuguese archives and testimonials it is clear that the conspiracy behind Amilcar Cabral’s assassination was a plot involving the Portuguese secret police force PIDE-DGS (Policia Internacional De Defesa do Estado) similar to US C.I.A. and several Guineas PAIGC members led by Momo Toure and Aristides Barbosa who were both imprisoned in the 60s and later released by the Portuguese. The report continued to state that Amilcar Cabral was murdered by Inocencio Kani a fellow PAICG naval commander at approximately 10:30 pm on January 20th 1973 in front of the PAIGC office in Conakry upon his return from a dinner at the Polish embassy accompanied by his then wife while unarmed and unprotected.
Shortly after Cabral’s death with the help of Guinea Conakry’s Sekou Toure, Kani and the rest of the plot leaders were captured and interrogated. About 10 were executed including Kani. At the time of Mondlane’s assassination, the Portuguese government was not as weak as it was during the assassination of Cabral. The Portuguese government probably carried out Mondlane’s assassination without ruling out collaboration by his fellow comrades just like in the case of Cabral and Herbert Chitepo of Zimbabwe.
Africans must revisit this history and protect our genuine leaders and the continent’s resources. We must determine our destiny.
By Sam Ditshego