Throughout an official go to to Washington DC in 1962, Cameroon’s founding President Ahmadou Ahidjo knowledgeable President John F. Kennedy of his displeasure over anti-black racism within the US. Ahidjo met and praised the management of the Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Folks (NAACP), the oldest African American civil rights organisation, for its willingness to unite with Africa “in a world-wide motion to struggle in opposition to the evils of racial discrimination, injustice, racial prejudices, and hatred”.
He later wrote that:
Every time a black man [and woman] is humiliated anyplace on this planet, all Negroes the world over are damage.
President Ahidjo known as for a united entrance between Africans and African-People to confront anti-black racism.
He was not the primary postcolonial African chief to make such a request. Ghana’s founding President Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanism was a message about black upliftment and unity, and his shut ally, Sekou Touré of Guinea, advocated related aims.
These requires a campaign in opposition to anti-black racism had been deeply rooted in the most effective of African nationalism.
On the opposite aspect of the Atlantic, requires collaboration to finish racism had been additionally happening. A number one proponent of that message was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He and plenty of in his era rejected the detrimental proscriptions of Africa, and known as for Africans and African People to hitch forces within the anti-racism campaign.
They spoke fondly of their roots in Africa:
we’re descendants of the Africans…“our heritage is Africa. We must always by no means search to interrupt the ties, nor ought to the Africans.
Africans and African-People should rekindle the spirit of collaboration and cooperation which existed amongst black nationalists over half a century in the past to counter the rising tide of anti-black racism within the US. It was a relationship which got here with mutual political, financial, and cultural advantages.
I’m a scholar of recent African historical past with specific emphasis on Africa-US relations and have revealed extensively within the discipline. My newest publication, on Cameroon-US relations, amongst different issues, addresses the significance of the collaboration between Africans and African People to uplift Black folks.
King’s eyeopening go to to Ghana
King’s information of Africa advanced slowly, and was initially peppered with the standard beliefs of African backwardness. However a visit to Ghana was transformative. In 1957, President Kwame Nkrumah invited him to his nation’s independence ceremony.
King honoured the invitation. Throughout the ceremony King ”began weeping… crying for pleasure“ when the British flag was changed with the Ghanaian flag. He spoke endlessly in regards to the endurance, willpower, and braveness of the African folks. The anti-colonial wrestle in Ghana mirrored what was happening throughout Africa.
Later, King famous that Ghana’s independence
can have worldwide implication and repercussions — not just for Asia and Africa, but additionally for America.
This gave African People new insights in regards to the anti-colonial wrestle.
More and more, King noticed parallels between the anti-colonial motion in Africa and the civil rights wrestle within the US. In his sermon, ”The Beginning of a brand new nation“, he said that the Ghana instance strengthened his perception that an
oppressor by no means voluntarily offers freedom to the oppressed.
He added that nonviolence was an efficient tactic in opposition to oppression.
European colonialism of Africa and segregation in America had been each “programs of evil”, he wrote, and summoned all to work to defeat them.
African nationalism meets US civil rights motion
Whereas racial segregation remained entrenched in America, the tide of independence was altering shortly in Africa. In 1960, 17 African nations gained independence. They took their anti-racism message to the United Nations, the place they chastised the US for its failure to cease anti-black racism.
African representatives within the US had been usually victims of American racism. Given the Chilly Warfare, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that one in every of America’s main Chilly Warfare issues was the continual anti-black racism within the nation.
After Nigeria, King more and more spoke of a way of urgency. In his article, “The Time for Freedom has Come”, he praised the independence motion in Africa whereas blasting the sluggish tempo of change within the US. He referred to the independence motion in Africa because the
biggest single worldwide affect on American Negro college students.
African nationalists reminiscent of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tom Mboya, Hastings Banda had been “standard heroes on most Negro school campuses”, King said. He urged African governments to do extra to assist the civil rights wrestle of “their brothers [and sisters] within the US”.
As well as, newspapers in a number of African nations used the therapy of African People to query the function of America because the chief of the “free world”.
Ebb and movement
King and his contemporaries took critically the partnership with Africa. African American leaders, activists, and students alike turned to Africa for inspiration. For instance, WEB Du Bois, whose credentials included being co-founder of the Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Folks and the Pan-African motion, relocated to Ghana. Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), who launched the Black Energy idea within the civil rights motion settled in Guinea. Many others immigrated to Africa.
Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou was reworked by the African expertise. She wrote:
For it’s Africa that struts round in our rounded calves, wiggles round in our protruding butts, and crackles in our huge and frank snort.
The Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies had been a long time of exceptional collaboration and cooperation between Africans and African-People.
American political leaders took notice of the collaboration between Africans and African-People. President John F. Kennedy, the primary American president to deal with Africa with respect, created a extra knowledgeable US international coverage in the direction of African nations – partly to woo the assist of African-People in elections.
Kennedy’s coverage was later deserted by his successors – a few of whom reverted to referring to Africans as “cannibals” and “genetically inferior”.
These new insurance policies coincided with a deep stage of ignorance about Africans by African-People and vice-versa. And little effort was made by either side to bridge the hole. African People more and more noticed Africans by means of a stereotypical lens invented by the western society to justify colonialism and slavery.
In flip, Africans accepted uncritically America’s mainstream society’s labels of African People. The kind of relations and advocacy cast by King’s era had evaporated.
However the tide could also be altering. There was renewed curiosity following the discharge of the film Black Panther which confirmed blacks as succesful, decided, and possessed civilisation. Following the homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the African Union publicly condemned America for its steady racism in opposition to blacks.
The spokesperson Ebba Kalondo issued a robust condemnation of
the persevering with discriminatory practices in opposition to Black residents of the US of America.
Kalondo demanded a full investigation of the killing.
This new place might rekindle the spirit of cooperation and collaboration which characterised the King period. A serious a part of ending anti-black racism within the US is to study in regards to the function Africa performed in shaping the concept of the west and Africa’s contributions to world civilizations.
That information will implode centuries-old myths of Africa’s backwardness and incapability. It’s as much as African People to champion that dialog in college lecture rooms and plenty of different public areas.
Lastly, what King mentioned about Africa as filled with “wealthy alternatives”, inviting African People to “lend their technical help” to a rising continent stays as true at present because it was when he mentioned it practically 60 years in the past.
The failure to take action has more and more ceded the bottom to different actors who proceed to use the continent.