This is Lumumba’s 90th birthday year
On May 21, 2015, many of us in the United States gathered to pay homage the martyr El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, known as Malcolm X.
I wanted to be here in New York City this year as a moral obligation to commemorate his birthday and his monumental legacy for the freedom of the mind of Blacks people in America, in Africa, Black people worldwide but also for the mind of oppressed people.
This July 2, 2015 will also be an important date for Africans as we celebrate the 90th birthday of another martyr — Patrice Lumumba, politically assassinated by the Belgian government for having the courage to speak his mind and to contribute to the awakening of the Congolese people.
He wanted them to understand that their country is the lung of the motherland; to the rest of Africans that we shall fight to keep and control our lands and whatever comes out from our lands.
I often wondered how am I going to answer my child when she sees the map of tiny Belgium and compares it to the map of Congo DR? Maybe I shall just quote Steve Bantu Biko that “the biggest weapon in the mind of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”?
My closest contact with Patrice Lumumba occurred a few years ago when I landed in Libya. After few days in Tripoli we landed to Syrte to meet the late Colonel Muammar Khadaffi and the person who greeted me upon my arrival at the hotel was Roland Lumumba.
I had just turned 32 years old and thought that it was time to step back from the sports marketing world and do my due diligence by being a contributor to the motherland.
“I am Malcolm X”; this is what was said at the end of the Spike Lee biopic of El Hajj Malik Shabazz and I had just finished reading “The Audacity of Hope” and definitely chose not to pursue the audacity of hoop. I agreed to trade my sneakers and basketball outfit for the suit and dress shoes to be on the special convoy to go meet the late Colonel Khadaffi.
After a few e-mail messages and phone calls from London, I received all my flights details. It was time to “seek what Malcolm sought” when he started the Organization of African American Unity (OAAU), I needed to have an on the ground experience of the essence of Pan-Africanism.
Colonel Khadaffi wanted to meet young Africans from the Diaspora because he wanted to have a conversation with us to share his vision for a strong and united Africa; The United States of Africa.
This is the dream of Kwame Nkrumah, which was inspired by Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Dubois, George Padmore and many others. I naturally took time to tell Roland Lumumba how grateful I was to came across his father’s speeches. I was indeed thankful to my parents too; they instill in me this sense of being proud of my ancestry and origin. They gave us at an early stage the possibility to come across scholars such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Ivan Van Sertima, Theophile Obenga, and planted these seeds of “know your history, your African heritage”.
In Libya, after a few days in Tripoli, planes were waiting for us to fly to the middle of the Syrte desert.
As the irony of history, I sat next to M. Etienne Zongo under the huge tent. He had witnessed the assassination of Colonel Thomas Sankara. He told me what happened that day when they assassinated Sankara when the Burkina Faso leader, facing eminent danger told others, minutes before he was killed: “Stay there, it’s me they want!”
Finally, Colonel Khadaffi arrived escorted by the Amazons, his bodyguards. He showed lots of kindness; behind his sunglasses I could noticed he was looking at me, and I’m sure others too, straight in the eyes when shaking firmly our hands with a welcome to Syrte in Arabic.
I left that day with something Colonel Khadaffi said, after he introduced us to his project of the United States of Africa: “My daughters and sons, if African nations don’t support my project my days are numbered. Young Africans remember that your beloved motherland Africa is the envy of the world don’t give up your continent..”
Years later, on October 20, 2011 I wawatchedews of his death on CNN and told myself “He knew his days were numbered.”
I have heard many say he was a terrorist. Colonel De Gaulle was also considered a terrorist by the Germans. When I walk by CoColumbusircle in New York and see the huge statue of Christopher Columbus, I wonder if Native Americans consider him a hero? When I think of Napoleon and the restablishment of the Code Noir or think of Alexander, the so-called “Great” I still wonder — “great” from who’s point of view?
The day after my first meet-and-greet with Roland Lumumba, we had time to evoke Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Winnie Mandela was the iron fist; she continued the struggle of Umtata Madiba. Winnie Mandela the freedom fighter and the one who will always remain the Mother of the South African nation.
I hope and pray she will be bestowed honor worthy of her value and that she will be able to witness her statue exposed to South Africans during her lifetime. By mentioning Nelson and Winnie Mandela, we were also able to exchange a few words on the involvement of Libya in the fight against Apartheid.
Like the DR Congo and the Belgians, South Africa and Apartheid were the biggest capitalistic projects Western nations decided to maintain. As for South Africa, a Dinka proverb says ” a lion dies by killing”.
Africa is the next frontier but for who? Witness the horrific massacres playing out in Nigeria and carried out by Boko Haram and the mass killings in Southern Sudan. The end result of such assaults of massive proportions, undoubtedly creates pockets of poverty, strife, and other human degradation; from Nigeria, spilling over into Chad and Cameroon, while mirroring as well, the dire economic state of most African nations.
When I looked at the news and see young and ambitious Africans risking their lives on boats of fortune to cross the sea to Europe and for many to perish along the way, I keep wondering “Africa is rising, but for who?”
I can’t help but recall what Malcolm X said of Africa during his trip to Nigeria; and that was over 50 years ago:
“It is full of Americans and other Whites who are well aware of its untapped natural resources. The same Whites, who spit in the faces of Blacks in America and sic their police dogs upon us to keep us from ‘integrating’ with them, are seen throughout Africa, bowing, grinning and smiling in an effort to ‘integrate’ with the Africans — they want to ‘integrate’ into Africa’s wealth and beauty. This is ironical.”
Do you see any improvement today? Your feedback is appreciated and I mean it.
Witness in may African countries Bentleys, Mercedes or BMWs, next to the vast majority of citizens in African nations who are living in the most deplorable conditions, stemming from the results of man-made economic misery.
Ethnic divisions, hence the lack of trust amongst our own people, are barriers that work against us in the process of establishing a collective interest to benefit our given society as a whole. This makes
it possible for extremist groups like Boko Haram and others in Eastern Congo foment, rise, and thrive.
During my years in the United States, I had the opportunity to understand the concept that one can be educated but still remain a narrow-minded, non-conscious person oblivious to ones obligations for the societal growth of a given nation.
Alienation showed by some individuals who had the possibilities to bring about change in Africa, but due to their own shortcomings, their ambiguous and shaky personal connections, meant wasted opportunities. Others transitioned from diplomats to illegal U.S. immigrants and blew the chances that were at hand in finding ways to create solid means to promote social and economic development in their native lands.
What would have become of todays South Africa had former president, Nelson Mandela, acted in a similar selfish manner?
No wonder it is not outside of the norm to hear misguided individuals uttering words such as: I wish White people were still in Congo, I wish White people were still in Africa; we were better off during colonization.
Clearly such individuals have never heard of or do not care about the Congo Holocaust orchestrated by Leopold II of the Belgians in which an estimated more that 10 million African men, women, and children were the victims of his avaricious appetite for wealth at any cost as shown in the documentary White King, Red Rubber, Black Death.
Did the legacy of Mandela’s 27 years behind bars mean little or nothing to us as Africans?
What is the point if our minds are filled with only the desire of attaining the personal, peripheral, trappings of wealth such as the palatial homes, the luxury cars, the private jet with little or no concern of uplifting our nations to a global status, to enable us to sit at the table of the G8 summit conferences?
Mandela demonstrated that leadership was caring and laying the ground for the next generation and not for the next election.
Consider Qatar and other states that comprise the United Emirates. Just 30 years ago, these countries lay in desert-like environment from which they have triumphantly emerged as 21st Century, ultra-modern, gleaming mega-cites. As Africans, with the continent’s resources, we can achieve the same knowing that wisdom in the first step towards freedom.
One cannot learn with hunger on the mind; therefore in any society agriculture plays a major component for its development and from which the exchange of goods through trade encourages other business alliances to be established.
We must build more clinics and adequate hospitals to provide medical care for all. We must find ways to improve our source of energy; we must also invest in better infrastructures like roads and bridges, while protecting the environment.
We need centers of learning, and we must educate our daughters as well — in science, economics, or the law of labor. An educated woman is more likely to make sure that her children will be educated as well. Take note of the transformative impact that the Oprah Winfrey School for Girls in South Africa will have.
We need politicians with real leadership mindset and who have the interest of his or her constituents at heart; we need environments free of corruption, cronyism, and nepotism.
We must be concerned by the new African bourgeoisie who are becoming the new capitalists and mercenaries on their own continent. They want to make sure they stay and live on the motherland among Africans but with the standard of living of White people in the West so that they can be seen as “equals”; never mind conditions for the vast majority of Africans.
Heed Mandela’s words: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation.”