Hypocritical racist Trump going after Assata!

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Donald Trump crying over some cop who has killed a long time ago and trying to get Cuba who has given her refuge to hand them over so she can be prosecuted is pathetic and cowardly. Especially, since Cops who murder African people in the United States of America are routinely found not guilty and left alone to resume their lives.
What kind of man seeks out to bring arrest a 70-year-old woman but allows a War criminal like George W. Bush to roam around freely when he has led to the death of thousands of people. The life of Assata Shakur is worth far more than any police officer.
Whatever happened to Trump’s promise to arrest Hillary Clinton for her crimes against the United States of America. Or how about arresting war criminal George W. Bush. The fact that George W. Bush one of the greatest war criminals in the history of the world is roaming free in the United States proves the ICC and other White institutions are comical.

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Donald Trump call to Cuba to illegal detain free Cuban citizen Assata Shakur show lack of respect for the sovereignty of Cuba and undermines global peace. If anything Assata Shakur should be given a Presidential Medal of Freedom for standing up against one of the most racist institutions in the World the USA legal system.

Article by Amos Magazine

Was Fidel Castro a friend to Africans?

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The Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro passed away on Friday 25th November. I am not going to provide an account of the Cuban Revolution, rather I just wanted to pay a brief, but heartfelt tribute to Castro, without deifying him or pretending that he was perfect, which is a common tendency when people write about people they admire. Why do I admire Castro? Is it because I am a Communist or Marxist revolutionary? No, certainly not. I admire him because he was one of the few true friends, in terms of significant political leaders, that Afrika has had during the 20th century. Whilst some of the Afrikan leaders of the ‘frontline states’, during the apartheid era in South Africa,  either sat passively by or in some cases, actively co-operated with the apartheid regime, such as the arrogant neo-colonial lackey Dr Hastings Banda who “… was careful never to appear radical in front of the former colonial masters and pleased the British government by maintaining trade and contact with South Africa, condemning his fellow African leaders more than he did apartheid.”  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-dr-hastings-banda-1296534.html  Fidel Castro put Cuban forces into battle against colonial regimes in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola. Much Cuban blood was shed on the battlefields of Southern Africa in aid of Afrikan liberation.
A great example is the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. “The battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the Cuban intervention in Angola is one of the turning points in Southern African History. It led to the movement of powerful Cuban armed force, into the west, towards the Namibian border. The fighting in the south western part of Angola led to the withdrawal of the South African, ANC and Cuban presence in Angola, and to the Independence of Namibia.”  http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/battle-cuito-cuanavale-1988 This battle was hugely significant in that it not only led to the withdrawal of South African troops from Angola and independence of Namibia, but it also destoyed the aura of invincibility surrounding the South African Defence Force (SADF), and was a  significant contributory factor in the release of Nelson Mandela and end of apartheid in South Africa.

You have to put this all into context by remembering that the white world vacillated between overt and covert support for the apartheid regime, as perhaps best exemplified by UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher referring to the Afrikaners as “our kith and kin” during a state visit to the UK by the then South African leader, the despicable war criminal, PW Botha. In global terms Cuba is a small island nation with a small population and which has been under economic and political attack by the United State ever since the revolution in 1959. Over the years there were more than a dozen documented assassination attempts against Castro by various US governments and yet despite living in the shadow of a hugely powerful; hostile neighbour, Castro had the vision and commitment to reach out to African people in Afrika, the Caribbean and other parts of the world and lend direct practical military, economic and medical aid. Just take the example of the massive earthquakes in Haiti where Cuba sent teams of doctors and the US sent in hordes of soldiers. That is a direct legacy of Fidel Castro and also illuminates the Euro-American mindset of always coming to conquer. Cuba even offered to send in medical teams in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina whilst the US government once again sent in teams of soldiers to face down a non-existent threat from the stranded, mostly Afrikan residents of New Orleans. Over the years Cuba has run a program giving free medical training to African-Americans.

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Castro should also be remembered for his strenuous attempts to wipe out racism in Cuba. I should be clear that he did not succeed in this, but it was not for the want of trying. Racism is still alive and kicking in Cuba as you can see by the behavior and attitudes of many of the European Cubans who migrate to the US from the island. Since, as I have mentioned many times before, racism is a normative part of European culture, all Castro could do was to suppress overt manifestations of racism in Cuba, but he could never kill its cultural root. I recall an Afrikan woman telling me of her holiday to Cuba, which took place in the last 10 years, and how she was constantly asked for her ID on the private beach associated with the hotel she was staying in and how it was regularly insinuated that she was a prostitute. You also have all of the skin color and shade issues in Cuba as is found in places such as Jamaica, UK, US etc. as well as the same European beauty ideal.

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Human Rights – We have to speak about human rights because this will be the biggest criticism made of Castro.  Did the Castro government suppress people’s human rights? To my mind the answer is obviously yes, however I think again we have to look at this in context. What do you think is going to happen when you lead a  tiny nation with the most powerful nation on Earth as a very hostile near neighbor which is  making every attempt to not only overthrow your government but also to directly kill you? It would be naive to think that you can have an open society under such abnormal conditions. Just take the failed ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion in 1961 as an example of US hostility  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13066561  No one knows for sure how Cuba would have developed if it was not faced with the ongoing US economic embargo designed to impoverish the Cuban people and destabilise the Cuban government.

The Future – With the transition of leadership to Fidel Castro’s brother Raul in 2008, the lifting of the US economic embargo and the flow of US money into Cuba which will become a tidal wave, the future for Cuba is likely to be Back to the Future. Prior to the revolution Cuba was a playground for the rich and famous from the US, a place where the Mafia could launder money and  centre for gambling, drugs and prostitution. I predict that in 5-10 years Cuba will be transformed. There will be huge infrastructure investment in the key tourist areas with hotels, casinos, theme parks etc popping up and a massive spike in property prices in these areas. Cuba will become one of the top holiday destinations for US citizens and will become a hotspot for sex tourism. Some Cubans are going to make  significant amounts of money, whilst the US transnational corporations are going to make a killing. Cuba will become yet another neo-colonial island in the sun.

Article written by Ifayomi Grant

Negroes with Guns

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Robert Williams, as an ex-Marine recently discharged from duty, returned to his hometown of Monroe North Carolina at just about the same time as the historic Supreme Court desegregation decision. When he tried to join the local NAACP chapter, he found that it was shrinking rapidly, like many others, because of intimidation from racists enraged by the Supreme Court’s decision. The remaining chapter members elected Williams president and then quit. Within a couple of years of this terrible start, Williams’s chapter had successfully gained the integration of the public library with a hardy fight; other successes were to follow. Instead of relying on the Black middle-class, the traditional members of the NAACP, Williams had recruited heavily the Black poor and working classes. Their chapter quickly gained a reputation of strength and of not relying on standard middle class methods.

Guns have always been common in the South, both Blacks and whites frequently had them and used them. However, organized groups engaging in armed self defense of the Black community were generally rare since Reconstruction. Yet organized armed self defense was one of the main strategies that the Monroe chapter developed in its work. The first major test of this strategy was in the summer of 1957 when a Klu Klux Klan caravan attempted to attack a chapter member’s home. The chapter was prepared and armed, and after a gun battle with no casualties, the Klan fled.

Williams is careful to point out that the Monroe chapter had reputedly requested that the authorities from city to federal level stop the Klan’s intimidation, of course no one acted and the federal government didn’t even respond. He also points out that after the gunfight, the city government moved rapidly to ban any Klan demonstration without a special permit. Williams goes on to say that two weeks later the same Klan group attempted to attack the nearby Lumbee Native American community where they were chased off again by gunfire. This second incident received national attention while the confrontation in Monroe was mostly ignored.

Relations between the Monroe chapter and the middle-class dominated national headquarters of the NAACP had always been tense since Williams joined and this conflict came to a head in 1959. A white man was put on trial for the vicious rape of a Black woman. A white woman testified on the Black woman’s behalf and the Monroe chapter secured a lawyer from New York to help. It was to no avail. A conviction was impossible in the extreme racist atmosphere. Williams relates that many of the Black women demanded to know what the Black community should do now. Before the trial Williams had encouraged the community to use the legal system, but to respond to this pressure and to make sure racists knew it wasn’t going to be open season on Blacks, he released a statement that, among other things, declared “…the Negro in the South can not expect justice in the courts. He must convict his attackers on the spot, he must meet violence with violence…” The statement received national attention and criticism. Roy Wilkins, the head of the NAACP, acted immediately and suspended Williams.

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In spite of controversy, the Monroe chapter continued to have success. They participated in the wave of sit-ins across the South in 1960 to desegregate public facilities. While severe violence occurred in other areas, nothing of the kind occurred in Monroe, which Williams puts to their record of successful self defense. During the campaign to desegregate the Monroe swimming pool, however, racist whites “went wild.” Three different attempts on Williams’s life were made. During one especially harrowing incident a mob formed around Williams’s car after it had just been rammed by a racist’s car. Williams and other NAACP members in the car stood off the mob using guns (several racists also had guns) and even prevented themselves from being disarmed by the local police. The state police finally cleared the mob to prevent a blood bath.

Up to this point in the story, Williams has carefully explained how the intelligent use of self defense has not only saved the lives of many Blacks, but actually prevented much violence from occurring in the first place. In an isolated town where blacks were only a quarter of the population they had matched all the major achievements of the mainstream civil rights movement. Now in 1961, the strategies of the middle-class dominated national movement would be contrasted with that of the Monroe’s local movement in Monroe itself. By this time the Monroe chapter had come up with a series of demands including heavy emphasis on economic demands, which was years ahead of most other groups. The chapter was prepared for long-term struggle but still welcomed help in whatever way it came. Help did come from the “Freedom Ride” campaign. Unfortunately this nationally coordinated campaign did not respect the tactics that the local community had developed. The Freedom Riders, which included many whites, immediately made a public pledge of nonviolence upon arrival. Williams describes how he believes this, and the riders’ passive behavior, was responsible for a dramatic rise in racist attacks including many on the Riders themselves. The descriptions of paternalism from some of the white Freedom Riders are laughable but the descriptions of violence are not. In response to a protest at the courthouse, thousands of racists came from miles around, many of them encouraged to come by local police. This mob was the culmination of a week of threats and beatings. Some of the Freedom Riders were rescued by armed Blacks in cars, others were beaten and arrested. The mob proceeded to attack any Blacks they could find and when night came, racists began attacking the Black section of town. Again, armed Blacks held off white attacks. Williams, however, received phoned death threats from the police chief and decided to leave town to get help. Shortly afterwards, he learned of his indictment on trumped up charges and fled to Canada and then Cuba.

Cuba gave Williams a base from which to publish his newsletter, “The Crusader,” and organized world-wide support for other Blacks framed up on racist charges in Monroe and elsewhere. He also pushed for the building of links between Blacks in the U.S., and people of color throughout the world. This anti-imperialist position was, like many of Williams’s other positions, ahead of its time. Several years later, Williams returned to the U.S. and helped to found the Republic of New Afrika, which incorporated his self defense theories from the start.

The accepted version, even among many radicals, of the history of the Black liberation movement of the sixties is that non-violence worked against blatantly racist Jim Crow laws in the South, but were inadequate to deal with the deeper, more subtle economic inequalities in the North, where frustrated Blacks turned to organizers like the Black Panthers. The truth which “Negroes with Guns” help shows is that non-violence, by itself, wasn’t even adequate against Jim Crow.

Other histories of the civil rights struggle support this alternative view. In “Struggle” by Clayborn Carson, an acclaimed history of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), Carson states, “the relative paucity of violence in some communities was attributed by SNCC workers not to the Federal presence, but to the willingness of Black to arm themselves.” In 1965, on the civil rights march through Mississippi, armed guard was provided by the Deacons For Defense, a Black self defense group. Even Martin Luther King, a participant, consented to this when it was clear that self defense was what marchers wanted. Possibly the best example was the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, in Alabama. Their militant armed stance and symbol – the black panther – served as direct inspiration for California’s Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Neither Robert Williams nor the organizations listed above confused legal armed self defense with armed insurrection or guerrilla struggle. All supported mass organizing of all kinds, including non-violent civil disobedience. However they believed they could not trust authorities and recognized that the discipline and pride that came from effective self defense was essential in all levels of struggle. It is possible though, that many of these activists believed that offensive armed action would be needed someday and they would be better prepared than most. Williams in particular, who traveled to Cuba as early as 1960, was probably weighing these possibilities.

Increasingly, many today feel the same way. Once again, grotesque racist murders by police and racists are in the news along with Black organizations proclaiming their right to armed self defense. Sadly, the response by liberals is often the same as it was in 1960, declaring self defense to be “proactive” and “divisive”. these are easy statements to make from a position of privilege, but the facts show, that right wing violence is rising across the board. Anti-abortion violence, homophobic violence and violence against immigrants is chronic and the state, as it always will, fails to provide adequate protection. When this is the situation, armed self defense must be at least part of the discussion of how to respond. For this reason, “Negroes with Guns” is required reading for all progressive and revolutionary activists.

Stokely Speaks: Black Power to Pan Africanism

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This remarkable collection of speeches and essays originally published in 1971 by one of the significant figures to emerge during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s in the United States, has been re-issued in a time period where the ideas put forward between 1965-1971 are just as important today as they were then. The questions of who is qualified to run society and government, the role of resistance in the struggle for genuine democracy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the role of people in the west in regard to revolutions taking place in the so-called Third World and Pan-Africanism.

With a forward by award-winning journalist from death row, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the book illustrates that it is not only a historical document but a living work in the service of not only understanding the past but bringing its weight to the contemporary challenges faced by conscious people in the 21st Century. In addition, Bob Brown’s preface to this new issue lends the credibility needed from someone who was influenced heavily by Carmichael (Ture) and worked closely with him for over three decades.

Mumia’s points to the importance of the book from someone who was younger than Carmichael but who was influenced by the political tendencies that he was instrumental in developing. Jamal was a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party from 1968. He admits that the split within the Black Panther Party in 1969 tainted his earlier view of Carmichael. However, he regrets that things were not different and that how much stronger the revolutionary movement may have been if these differences had not become antagonistic:

” …what would history have been if Ture did not leave the Party? What if the Party was big enough, strong enough, mature enough to include his insights into their own? Ture writes (in “Pan-Africanism”) of the “ideological issues” that separated him from the Party. Although he is not explicit, the issue was working with white radicals, something Ture found untenable. Ironically, the ideological positions between Huey P. Newton and Stokely Carmichael were perhaps closer than first thought. As early as 1971, Newton recognized that the Party’s work with white radicals was unproductive, for “White radicals did not give us access to the White community.” One cannot read Stokely’s trenchant analysis of white liberalism without coming to the same conclusion (see his January 1969 speech, “The Pitfalls of Liberalism”).”

As early as 1966, Carmichael was articulating a view that foresaw the protracted nature of national and class politics in the United States. During the recent period there have been vicious attacks on the political gains made by Africans in America during the civil rights and black power movements of the 1950s through the 1970s. Illustrating this clearly is the recent passage in the state of Michigan of a ballot initiative that changed the constitution to effectively outlaw affirmative action. This took place in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision in 2003 upholding in principle of the use of race as a deciding factor in both undergraduate and graduate/professional school admissions.

The central role of education in the process of national discrimination or institutional racism is pointed out in the essay entitled: “Who Is Qualified?” originally published in the January 8, 1966 issue of the New Republic. It was written at a time when Carmichael was organizing in Lowndes County, Alabama where the first Black Panther Party was formed with the explicit purpose of building an independent political force backed up by the armed will of the people to defend themselves against racist terror.

In regard to the undemocratic character of the distribution of educational resources in the United States, Carmichael writes that: “The panacea for lack of opportunity is education, as is the panacea for prejudice. But just how available is it? If every sixteen-year-old in the nation were motivated to attend high school, he could not: there are not enough schools, not enough physical space. As for college, less than one-quarter of the population ever gets there. The financial barrier is too high; even the cheapest state college charges fees which are impossible for the poor. Scholarships serve only the gifted. To make matters worse, many universities and colleges are already fighting off the mob by making entry more difficult. It is getting harder, not easier, for the poor to be included here. For the Negro, there is an additional problem. He is not psychologically attuned to think of college as a goal. Society has taught him to set short sights for himself, and so he does.”

In the essay entitled: “Power and Racism”, which initially appeared in the New York Review of Books in September of 1966, explains how this structural oppression of African people spawns resistance. He criticizes the purported non-violent character of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. He points to the dialetical relationship between the government’s response to the demands of the movement during its early phase to the eruption of urban rebellions which he explains are the natural outcome of the lack of response to peaceful protests:

“None of its so-called leaders could go into a rioting community and be listened to. In a sense, I blame ourselves–together with the mass media–for what has happened in Watts, Harlem, Chicago, Cleveland and Omaha. Each time the people in those cities saw Martin Luther King get slapped, they became angry; when they saw four little black girls bombed to death, they were angrier; and when nothing happened, they were steaming. We had nothing to offer that they could see, except to go out and be beaten again. We helped build their frustration.”

In providing a working definition of black power as an ideology and political program to counter the perceived weakness of the civil rights movement, Carmichael says later on in this same essay “Power and Racism” that: “This is what they seek: control. Where Negroes lack a majority, Black Power means proper representation and sharing of control. It means the creation of power bases from which black people can work to change statewide or nationwide patterns of oppression through pressure from strength–instead of weakness. Politically, Black Power means what it has always meant to SNCC: the coming together of black people to elect representatives and to force those representatives to speak to their needs. It does not mean merely putting black faces into office. A man or woman who is black and from the slums cannot be automatically expected to speak to the needs of black people. Most of the black politicians we see around the country today are not what SNCC means by Black Power. The power must be that of a community, and emanate from there.”

Some four decades later Africans in America have not realized this form of politics which is first and foremost designed to serve the immediate interests and needs of the community. In addition, to the domestic agenda involving education, political power and self-organization, the foreign policy of the United States reflects the internal racism and national oppression against Africans and other oppressed peoples. This is why Carmichael would accept an invitation to address the First Conference of the Organization of Latin American Solidarity in Cuba during July of 1967.

Carmichael begins this chapter entitled: “Solidarity With Latin America”, by stating forthrightly that Africans in the United States share common interests with the peoples of South America and its environs. He says that: “We share with you a common struggle, it becomes increasingly clear; we have a common enemy. Our enemy is white Western imperialist society. Our struggle is to overthrow this system that feeds itself and expands itself through the economic and cultural exploitation of non-white, non-Western peoples–of the Third World.”

These words are still relevant today in light of the continuing threats by US imperialism against the sovereignty of the Cuban Revolution. This lack of respect for Cuban independence is also represented by the continuing occupation of Guantanamo Bay as a naval base on that Caribbean island. One of the most egregious violations of human rights and the dignity of people has been the existence of torture camps where hundreds are held without charge or trial.

In the continental United States a burgeoning immigrant rights movement during 2006 has exploded and opened new avenues for solidarity and mass struggle. The resurrection of May Day in the country where it was formed has once again in the 21st Century been made a reality by recent immigrants as it was during the 19th Century with immigrants from Germany, Ireland and other European nations.

In another significant solidarity effort that has remained essential from the 1960s to the 21st Century is of course the question of the Palestinian’s right of return as well as national independence through the realization of a independent state for the Palestinian people. Carmichael in his address to the Organization of Arab Students in Ann Arbor, Michigan in August of 1968, he lays out the case for African-American solidarity with the Palestinian Revolution. He offers a serious critique of Zionism and the role of the propaganda put forward by this movement that seeks to win sympathy for the continued occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of self-determination for this oppressed and colonized people.

Carmichael says that:”Zionists have a very effective, offensive propaganda. They state their propaganda and everyone accepts it as the truth and they put on the defensive anyone who tries to even question their propaganda by calling him anti-Semitic. It’s a very, very good trick: nobody wants to be anti-Semitic, nobody wants to hate people merely because of their race. The way we found to counteract the offensive propaganda of the Zionists is to state our propaganda, and state it offensively, and state ours as the truth, and not bow down or question or quibble with the Zionists’ propaganda; that is the only way we have found to be able to deal with them. If the Zionists assert that they have a right to Israel, then we assert that the Palestinians have a right to Palestine. And once we assert that, there is never room for discussion. But once we assert that the Palestinians have a right to Palestine because it belongs to them, then there can be room for discussion in this country. That is precisely what we did: try very hard to calculate assertions that would for once put the Zionists on the defensive in this country and let them back up their so-called State of Israel, which we all know to be an unjust and certainly immoral state.”

In 2006 there was the blanket bombing of southern Lebanon by Israel. The United States Senate passed a resolution without opposition supporting this military action that was condemned by people throughout the region and to an increasing degree by popular organizations inside this country. It is the funding from American taxpayers that supply the F-15 and F-16 fighter planes which bomb Lebanon under the guise of fighting the falsely-labelled Hezbullah Party as terrorists.

Even a former US President is attacked by the pro-Israeli lobby and sections of the ruling class for publishing a book describing the social system in occupied Palestine as apartheid-like in its character. Consequently, the notion of solidarity between Africans in the United States and Palestinians goes to heart of challenging the imperialist’s aim of dominating the middle-east through the notion of protecting the security of Israel, a settler-colonial state.

By 1969, Carmichael had re-located in the west African nation of Guinea-Conakry, then under the leadership of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) headed by President Ahmed Sekou Toure. Pan-Africanism utilizes as a principle tenet the international character of the black struggle, the identity of these peoples as Africans and the unity of peoples of African descent around the world.

In a “Message from Guinea” sent in the form of a letter to the founding meeting of the Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham, North Carolina in October of 1969, Carmichael states that: “Now, we must recognize that black people, whether we are in Durham, San Francisco, Jamaica, Trinidad, Brazil, Europe or on the mother continent, are all an African people. We are Africans, there can be no quesiton about that. We came from Africa, our is African…. We have all suffered the same oppression at the hands of white folks, whether in Lynchburg, Virginia; Money, Mississippi; Accra, Ghana; or Johannesburg, South Africa.”

Carmichael views Pan-Africanism as the highest expression of Black Power. Here the evolution is complete from civil rights and black power to the realization that the liberation of Africa is key to the world-wide freedom of all peoples who share the continent as a homeland.

The reprinting of this book comes as an enormous contribution to the ongoing ideological and political discussion among African peoples related to their continuing quest for genuine human emancipation. This book provides the opportunity for an ancestor to speak from the whirlwind, to provide encouragement and guidance to the developing struggle for qualitative change and social transformation.

Review by Abayomi Azikiwe

Patrice Lumumba- Congolese Warrior

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During his exile in the 1980s, Mr Holden Roberto – president of the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) – and one of his collaborators, visited me in my office at Howard University in Washington. In order to counter accusations (incidentally well-founded) levelled at his party, of colluding with American imperialism and selling out on their commitment to Pan-Africanism, my two visitors began by reciting in its entirety Patrice Emery Lumumba’s famous speech at the Congolese independence ceremony on 30th June 1960. This gesture – which strongly affected me – shows the attachment you still find across the whole African continent, even among its lost sheep, for this martyr for African nationalism and the struggles of oppressed peoples all over the world.

Rare are the African countries where one does not find streets, even main roads, named after Lumumba. Many African children born after his assassination have ‘Lumumba’ as their forename. The former executive secretary of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (2002-5) and president of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (2010-11) is called Patrick Lumumba, and his passion for change and eloquence recalls those qualities in his namesake.

These two references to the political heritage of Lumumba show how the assassination of this great African leader resonated – and continues to resonate – with Africans. In his excellent book, The Assassination of Lumumba, Belgian sociologist Ludo de Witte shows the significance of this particular assassination in the history of Western tactics against the anti-imperialist revolutions of the 20th Century – from Mossadegh’s Iran to Nasserist Egypt, Castro’s Cuba, Lumumba’s Congo and Sankara’s Burkina Faso.

It is in this context – the struggle between the interests of the international bourgeoisie and those of the popular masses – that we must understand the factors contributing to Lumumba’s assassination, its political consequences for Congo, and the place of this Congolese hero in the pantheon of universal defenders of the emancipation of peoples.

The assassination of Lumumba was the outcome of two conspiracies closely bound together with the American and Belgian governments, which relied on the complicity of certain Congolese leaders and a Belgian firing squad composed of soldiers and policemen under the Katanga puppet regime.

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Patrice Lumumba – the man and his political project

Who is Patrice Lumumba, and why was he so violently assassinated by the forces of counter-revolution? Born on 2nd July 1925 in Onalua, a small village in the region of Katako-Kombe, Lumumba received his education at primary school as well as among Belgian Catholic missionaries at Tshumbe Sainte-Marie and the famous Methodist mission in Wembo Nyama. He was not appreciated there, neither among the representatives of the colonial trinity (the State, big business, the Catholic Church) nor by the American missionaries – themselves fervent believers in the ideology of white supremacy prevalent in the Southern states of the USA, and too weak to contest colonial repression. An intellectually precocious pupil who rebelled against the thundering paternalism of the missionaries, the young Lumumba decided to leave Sankuru in 1944 without obtaining his certificate of study in order to spread his wings elsewhere. After several months in the region of Kindu, he would go on to pursue a career as a bureaucrat in Kisangani (then Stanleyville). It was during this long stay at Kisangani (1944-57) that Lumumba developed his characteristic traits; moral and intellectual integrity, immovability on points of principle, and exceptional bravery even in the face of death. As one of the members of the firing squad which killed him recalled, Lumumba maintained a glacial calm in front of the executioners.

At Kisangani, Lumumba distinguished himself as president, vice president, or secretary, of at least seven organisations of Congolese évolués – literally meaning ‘evolved people’, this term was used by the Belgian colonial establishment to distinguish a class of ‘Westernised’ blacks. An autodidact, with the exception of a year of professional training at the École Postale in Kinshasa (then Leopoldville), he succeeded in acquiring immense knowledge about the contemporary world through extensive, self-guided reading on politics and history. According to Thomas Kanza, his collaborator and biographer, Lumumba ‘read all that fell into his hands’. As leader, he was a convincing and effective representative for the Kisangani evolués, liaising with the governor of the province, the Belgian minister of the colonies, Auguste Buisseret, and the young king, Baudouin I, during his first visit to Congo in 1955. Still a believer in the idea of the Belgo-Congolese community, promulgated by amicales belgo-congolais, clubs comprising evolués and those Belgians open to a gradual process of integration, Lumumba was invited to Belgium for the first time in 1956.

Fearing his perspicacity and well-founded criticisms of colonial racism, the colonial authorities welcomed his return from Brussels with a charge of tax avoidance, followed by a sentence of two years in prison by a trial court in Kisangani. The public prosecutor, judging this punishment insufficient, made an appeal, but the court of appeal in Kinshasa confirmed the sentence of two years. This punishment was reduced to four months, which he had already served in preventative detention, followed by a royal order granting grace, signed on 27th August 1957.

If Kisangani had given him the political apprenticeship he needed to master the mysteries of organisation and political practice, these two experiences of Kinshasa, of the École Postale and his incarceration, contributed in a decisive way to the awakening of his political consciousness. During his training in postal service administration in 1948, Lumumba made a short visit to Brazzaville, on the right bank of the River Congo opposite Kinshasa. Thirsty from walking, he stopped outside a café with the hope of finding a waiter who would give him a glass of water. To his surprise, it was the European café patron who noticed him, and invited him to sit where the whites were seated and brought him, not tap water, but mineral water. For the sociologist Pierre Clément – for whom he would work as a research assistant four years later –here was the first time that Lumumba realised that another world was possible, habituated as he was to the system of apartheid practised in Belgian Congo. Reinvigorated by the model of assimilation among the French in Congo-Brazzaville – though the ‘card of civic merit’ in 1948 and formal registration in 1952 did not succeed in guaranteeing equality of access to jobs, medical treatment, housing, social services and recreation – an évolué Lumumba felt his long-cowed spirit emboldened enough to dream of a more beautiful country than Belgian Congo.

This dream of radical change would reinforce itself further during his months of incarceration, during which Lumumba had the occasion to lead a serious reflection on the future of Congo and to read the famous ‘Plan de trente ans pour l’émancipation politique de l’Afrique belge’ by A.A.J Van Bilsen, a little known professor at the Colonial University of Anvers, together with the two Congolese reactions to this document: first, ‘Manifeste de la Conscience Africaine’, the work of a group of catholic intellectuals represented by Joseph Ileo, Joseph Malula (future cardinal) and Joseph Ngalula; second, the counter-manifesto by l’Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO), an ethnic association led by Joseph Kasavubu. After leaving prison, Lumumba installed himself in Kinshasa where, from 1957, he launched himself into the political struggle. Joining up with Ileo and Ngalula, he succeeded, in October 1958, in taking the leadership of the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), a political organisation started up with the intention of eventually becoming a credible political party at the national level.

By a happy confluence of circumstances, the year 1958 ended with the emergence of Patrice Lumumba as one of the principal leaders in the struggle for independence. The turning point was the visit to Kinshasa by two east African leaders on their way to the first ‘Conference des peuples Africains’, held in Accra between the 5th and 13th December 1958. Concerned that a large country like Congo risked missing out on this great African rendez-vous, A.R. Mohamed Babu of Zanzibar and Tom Mboya of Kenya asked a hotel worker where they could find the political leaders of the emerging independence movement. The worker in question was very happy to bring about a meeting with Patrice Lumumba, then the commercial director of the Brasserie du Bas-Congo (Bracongo), which produced the beer Polar. Lumumba often offered this to clients, ostensibly for promotional purposes but often using this as an opportunity to awaken the clients’ political consciousness. Babu and Mboya were so impressed by Lumumba that they sent a telegram to the Pan African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) asking for money to bring a Congolese delegation to Accra.

And so Patrice Lumumba, Gaston Diami and Joseph Ngalula accompanied Babu and Mboya to Accra, where Lumumba attracted the notice of the delegates at the conference, which brought together representatives from the 8 independent countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia) and those of the political parties, trade unions and other organisations of the civil society of the Pan-African world. There he met the leaders of national liberation movements such as Félix-Roland Moumié of the Union des Populations de Cameroun (UPC), Frantz Fanon of the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) of Algeria, and Amilcar Cabral of the Parti Africain pour L’independence de Guinéeet du Cap Vert (PAIGC), and he established strong working relationships with some great African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Modibo Keita and Ahmed Sékou Touré.

On his return to Kinshasa, Lumumba organized a popular demonstration on Sunday 28th December to inform the Congolese population of the resolutions of the Accra conference and their implications for the independence movement in Congo. Following the refusal by the first Belgian mayor of Kinshasa to allow ABAKO to hold a similar meeting the following Sunday, 4th January 1959, the population of Kinshasa rose in a three-day rebellion which sounded the death knell for the Belgian colonial regime in Congo. “Indépendance immediate”, the slogan of protestors, became a non-negotiable demand in the struggle of the Congolese people for their total freedom. Instead of the thirty years suggested by Van Bilsen in 1956, independence was obtained in four. The mobilisation of the population by radical political parties like ABAKA and MNC-L was responsible for the erosion of legitimacy, as much as the repressive abilities, of the colonial regime. Lumumba benefited from this new situation by placing the MNC-L throughout all the provinces of the country, to the point that his party became the spearhead of the Congolese independence struggle.

BELGIUM LUMUMBA

The assassination of Lumumba        

For more than 128 years, the US and Belgium played key roles in fashioning the destiny of the Congo. In April 1884, seven months after the opening of Congress in Berlin, the US became the first country in the world to recognise the claims of King Leopold of Belgium to the Congo basin territories. When the atrocities linked to the brutal economic exploitation of Congo led to millions of deaths, the US joined with other global powers to force Belgium to put an end to the status of Congo as a personal possession of King Leopold II and to give it the status of an ordinary colony. During the colonial period (1908- 60), the US saw Congo’s strategic advantage due to its abundant natural resources, above all its uranium, which was used to created the first atomic weapons, the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

With the launching of the Cold War, it was inevitable that Washington and her Western allies would not be disposed to give Africans control over their own strategically valuable natural resources, for fear that they would fall into the hands of their Soviet enemies. Because of this, Patrice Lumumba’s attempt to secure an authentic independence and to obtain effective control over the resources of Congo, with the aim of improving the living standards of our people, was seen as a threat to Western interests. In their fight against him, Washington and Brussels used all the tools and resources at their disposal, including the United Nations under Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld and his U.S. assistant Ralph Bunche, Lumumba’s Congolese political enemies, and his assassins.

In Congo, the assassination of Lumumba is, for good reason, considered the ‘original sin’ of the country. Occurring less than seven months after independence (30th June 1960), it was a stumbling block for ideals of national unity, economic independence, and the African solidarity for which Lumumba had advocated, as well as being a terrible blow to the hopes for freedom and material prosperity of millions of Congolese people. In place of this, the country was divided into four parts: the west of the country under the central government of Kinshasa; the north west under a rival central government led by Lumumba partisans; and the mining provinces of Katanga and Sud Kasaï under the secessionist regimes of Moïse Tshombe and Albert Kalonji, at Lumumbashi (Elisabethville) and Mbuji-Mayi (Bakwanga) respectively.

The neo-colonial regime of Kinshasa was born from the dismissal of Lumumba by president Kasavubu in 1960 and the coup d’etat of 14th September by which colonel Joseph-Desiré Mobutu claimed to neutralise both protagonists of the institutional crisis. Based on an obscure article of ‘La Loi Fondamentale’, the temporary constitution bequeathed to Congo by Belgium, this action ran contrary to all the political conventions of a parliamentary system where the prime minister enjoys a majority in parliament. This was the case with Lumumba: the two chambers rejected Kasavubu’s action as invalid. The Western puppet-masters understood then that there would have to be a military intervention to remove Lumumba from power, and Mobutu had already been making preparations to this end from the beginning of the Congolese crisis in July. A former ally of Prime Minister Lumumba, he was at the same time linked to the forces of the counter-revolution as an informer for the Belgian and American security services.

It was this man who became the real master of Kinshasa, in his role as head of the Binza Group. So-labelled because its members lived and met up in the well-off residential district of Binza, this powerful clique drew its power from its members’ influence over crucial institutions and politicians; the army (Mobutu); the police (Victor Nendaka); the ministry of foreign affairs (Justin Bomkoko), the ministry of the interior (Damien Kandolo), the Central Bank (Albert Ndele). These individuals worked in close collaboration with Prime Minister Cyrille Adoula and President Kasavabu, and no important decision could be taken by these last two without the approval of the Binza group, the hub of neocolonialism in Congo.

Patrice4...

The secessions of Katanga and Sud Kasaï

Of these two secessions, that of Sud Kasaï is the lesser-known one yet it also played an important role in the political and physical assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Proclaimed on 8th August 1960 in Lumumbashi, the Sud Kasaï secession forged close links with its Katangan counterpart, siding with the interests of international high finance and the counter-revolution, with La Societé Diamantifère Forminière in Kasaï playing the same role – of money-lender – that the Union Miniere du Haut Katanga (UMHK) played in Katanga. The smaller secession took place as the Lumumba administration was receiving logistical assistance from the Soviet Union in order to fight a war against the secession in Katanga, due to the refusal of UN Secretary General Dag Hammerskjöld to allow the Security Council to perform its remit of helping the Congolese government expel the Belgian forces and white mercenaries and put an end to the secession. The soldiers of the National Congolese Army (ANC) en route to Katanga received the order to put an end to the small secession of Sud Kasaï before crossing the border. Unfortunately, the undisciplined soldiers committed atrocious massacres against innocent civilians, including close to a thousand men, women and children who believed themselves safe from danger in the sanctuary of the Catholic Cathedral of Mbuju-Mayi (today Bakwanga).

Dag Hammarskjöld defined these killings as ‘genocide’ against the Luba and pointed the finger at Prime Minister Lumumba. Aside from the fact that the atrocities committed in Sud Kasaï did not correspond to the definition of genocide in international law, these odious crimes were not the sole responsibility of the head of government, but of the entire chain of command: the superior officers on the ground; the Chief of Staff, Mobutu; Prime Minister Lumumba; and President Kasavubu, in his capacity as supreme commander of the armed forces. As such, neither Hammerskjöld nor Kasavabu had any justification either for accusing Lumumba of genocide, or for illegally dismissing him when the responsibility for this incident was largely a collective one.

The capital of Sud Kasaï would be baptised ‘la boucherie’, because it was the chosen site for the summary execution of Lumumbists whom the neo-colonial regime of Kinshasa wanted to destroy. The most famous among the victims is without doubt Jean-Pierre Finant (1922-61), the first democratically-elected governor of the eastern province, of which Kisangani is the capital. Of mixed Belgo-Congolais descent and father of the famous Congolese singer Abeti Masikini (Betty Finant, 1954-94), he was executed on 17th February 1961, exactly one month after the assassination of Lumumba, with eleven companions, including Jacques Lumbala (a former colleague of Mobutu), Emmanuel Nzuzi and Jacques Fataki. As in the case of Lumumba, who was handed over to Katangan secessionists, the Binza group saw no contradiction between collaborating with the secessionist regimes which it needed to destroy, and assassinating their common enemies, the Lumumbists.

The secession of Sud-Kasaï collapsed through its internal contradictions, mainly due to the struggle for power between Joseph Ngalula and Albert Kalonji, who was proclaimed Mulopwe or emperor of the Luba-Kasaï, a people who had never been under the leadership of a single leader since leaving their ancestral birthplace in Katanga in the 18th century. Having returned to Kinshasa to become minister of education for the central government, Ngalula plotted with the Binza group to destroy Kalonji and bring an end to the secession. This came about in September 1962, following an armed revolt under the direction of Kalonji’s Chief of Staff.

Contrary to the Sud-Kasaï secession, where the internal dimension was as crucial to its failure as it was to its birth; in light of the Lulua-Baluba conflict and its poor management – by first, the Belgians, later, Lumumba – the external factor was a defining one in Katanga. As Jean Ziegler aptly described it in his work La contre revolution en Afrique, in its progression towards the south of the continent, the African national liberation movement hit the wall of counter-revolution, whereby the white colonists, mining companies and their right-wing allies in the West, banded together to defend their privileges. Then, from Katanga to the Cape of Good Hope, the white counter-attack manifested itself in the creation of states controlled by white colonists, either directly, as in the case of South Africa, in Namibia and in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyassaland, indirectly through the colonial state (Angola and Mozambique), or via a puppet government of paid-up blacks (Katanga). The essential continuity was that all these regimes succeeded in defending and promoting the interests of colonialists and of the corporations that sought to maximise their profits through the exploitation of badly-paid and quiescent labour. In the context of the cold war, the counter-revolution had no problem in inserting itself in the hegemonic discourse of Western values, Christian and democratic, which excluded communism, atheism and authoritarianism.

Well before the Rhodesian colonialist Ian Smith signed his ‘internal settlement’ with Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Pastor Ndabaningi and Chief Jeremiah Chirau in Zimbabwe, another agreement had already been negotiated in Congo, between the Conféderation des associations tribales de Katanga (CONAKAT) of Moïse Tshombe and Godefroid Munongo, the UMHK and the Union Katangaise – an association representing white colonialists – to allow Katanga to secede from Congo and become an independent state. In this sense, CONAKAT was just a way of giving voice to the interests of white colonialists through African mouths. Without the financial support of the UMHK, the military and technical support of Belgium, and the management of administrative and economic structures by the colonialists, Katanga could not survive as a political entity. Moreover, the secession relied on considerable external support; not only from Belgium, but also from France, the United Kingdom, and the US. In the country of Uncle Sam, the Katangan secession enjoyed solid backing in reactionary circles – lobbyists for the cause included influential senators Barry Goldwater of Arizona (a radical conservative), Thomas Dodd of Connecticut (a Democrat reprimanded by the Senate for corruption), and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina (a notorious racist, despite having fathered a daughter with a black woman).

Following on from the assassination of Lumumba, the Katangan lobby in the US and Europe lost its influence with the key deciders such as John F. Kennedy and Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs. These men understood that in the context of the Cold War, the territorial integrity of Congo was more useful to the West than a secessionist province which would continue to sow dissent across Africa and in the Third World in general, in turn raising difficult questions about the West’s responsibility for the death of Lumumba. Besides, these deciders no longer perceived a great threat to the economic and strategic interests of the West in Central Africa, given the physical elimination of Lumumba and the marginalization of Lumumbists after Lovanium. It is within this context that Kennedy would give the green light for the UN to put an end to the secession with force. Taking place on 29th November 1962, the UN intervention succeeded, with an agreement of capitulation signed by Tshombe on 17 January 1983. Ironically, the restoration of national unity to which Lumumba had given his life was realised by the interests of the imperial powers and their puppets in the neo-colonial regime in Kinshasa.

These efforts succeeded in putting an end to the Lumumbist regime of Kisangani in August 1961, to the secession of Sud-Kasaï in September 1962 and to that of Katanga in January 1963. The end of these three regimes would consecrate the rise of General Mobutu and his clique, the Binza Group.

Lumumba’s Legacy

Hardly had this process of unification finished before a radical social movement pronouncing a ‘second independence’ rose up to contest the neo-colonial state in Kinshasa and its pro-Western leaders. This mass movement brought together peasants, workers, the urban unemployed and students, alongside low and mid-ranking officials, who found an enthusiastic leadership among the former lieutenants of Patrice Lumumba, of which the majority had reformed to create the Conseil National de Libération (CNL) in October 1963 in Brazzaville.

Divided on the field into two wings – the Kwilu front, led by Pierre Mulele, and the Eastern front under Christopher Gbenye, Gaston Soumialot and Laurent-Desiré Kabila – the strengths and weaknesses of the movement can be used to gauge the global heritage of Patrice Lumumba, for Congo and the whole of Africa. The most positive aspect of this legacy is reflected in Pierre Mulele’s dedication to a radical program of change to satisfy the deep aspirations of the Congolese people for democracy and social progress. On the other hand, the Lumumbists of the Eastern front were more interested in power, and the privileges it conferred, than in genuine social change. In the latter case, it was all rhetoric and no action. In effect, the challenge for all those who want to follow in the footsteps of Lumumba is to make the leap from words into action.

A struggle that is far from over…

According to unconfirmed reports, Walter Kansteiner – US Secretary of State for African Affairs under George W. Bush, between June 2001 and November 2003 – designed a plan for the division of Congo into four countries. The justification for such a Balkanisation would be that, in its present dimensions, the country is too large and ungovernable. For the extreme right of the US Republican Party, and those with interests in the resources of tropical Africa – as is the case with the family business W.H Kansteiner, Inc of Chicago – this would facilitate access to resources, and make their transfer to outside markets easier. Besides, if Rwanda and Uganda could play the role of facilitator, why not?

For those nostalgic for the ‘White Man’s Burden’, and their lackeys in Africa, the reality is that their project for the recolonization of Congo will always stumble against the determination of the Congolese people to defend their unity, their national patrimony, and the territorial integrity of their homeland. The legacy of Patrice Lumumba, Pierre Lulele, André Kisase Ngandu and so many other martyrs brings women, men and children to shout “No” to balkanization and “Yes” to a “United Congo, a strong nation.” Just as the progressive leaders of the struggle for independence chanted this slogan on the eve of the achievement of sovereignty – united and nationalistic men and women of integrity – the real children of Lumumba continue to defend, against the odds, the greater interests of the Congolese nation.

Article by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja

Yusimi Moya Rodriguez doing an Orisha Yemaya dance

Yusimi Moya Rodriguez is a professional dancer educated on Arts University in Havana, Cuba. She has been working for several years at the state-run “Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba” (also known as “Ballet Folklorico”) and the private dance company “Ebony”. In her videos she is giving insights into the world of contemporary dance in Cuba and its unique technique,  African traditions,American modern ballet and Creole popular styles, and focuses on afrocuban dance traditions.