Theme: Forward to the Leap to Worldwide Pan-Afrikan Unity: Neocolonialism must be Dismantled!
Revolutionary greetings to the leadership of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) with whom this event has been jointly organized with AZAPO. Special greetings to my brothers, Prof Mammo Muchie of Ethiopia, Cde Sabir Ibrahim of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Northern Sector and my brother Dr Siphetfo Dlamini from SWALIMO in the neighbourhood of eSwatini. Revolutionary greetings to all gathered here today. AZAPO is very pleased to be part of this occasion that commemorates the 59th anniversary of Afrika Liberation Day.
AZAPO congratulates the Somalians for concluding their recent elections, giving hope to peace and prosperity that tend to elude some countries after elections. It is good coincidence that this happened as we celebrate the Afrika month. It was worrisome to observe the stop/start and postponements of the elections process that has been running since early 2021. It is stability of the Afrikan states that will enable Afrikan patriots to commit to its development and prosperity.
It is perhaps an accident of history that we meet here just after the burial of Cde Mpho Mashinini, a revolutionary activist in his own right and a product of June 16, 1976 Uprisings that was led by his elder brother Cde Tsietsi Mashinini. When Cde Tsietsi Mashinini and his cohort of Black Consciousness (BC) inspired South African Students Movement (SASM) comrades rose to lead the fight against colonialism and racism, never did they know that it was the making of an epoch changing moment in the history of struggle in Azania. This turned out to be a moment that connected, in a significant way, Cde Tsietsi Mashinini and other young people of Azania to the rest of the continent of Afrika. They left the motherland to seek refuge from their brothers and sisters in the continent in the knowledge that they will be warmly welcomed and embraced as brothers, as sisters on a mission to liberate their country as they had seen it happen to others beyond our borders.
As it turned out, June 16 became a moment, for Azanians, that reignited the imagination of our forebears whose desire was to see true freedom where the Azanian land would be reunited with Black people, the real landowners, their dignity restored and their sovereignty self-determined. It is the same imagination that propelled revolutionary leaders of Afrika like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Robert Mugabe, Julius Nyerere, Anton Lembede, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, and others to dream of an Afrika and her people that are free from destitution, conquer and dependence.
It is this imagination that united struggle activists across Afrika to come together and foster unity of purpose and drive to liberate the conquered nation states from the clutches of the European invaders. So it was that they saw it fit to declare an African Freedom Day as a symbol of determination by the people of Afrika to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Poignantly, when the OAU met in Addis Ababa on 25 May 1963, the African Freedom Day had to be renamed to Afrika Liberation Day with a commitment to ensure the decolonization of Afrikan nation states as a major aim and driver for revolutionary activism that will be tracked and monitored. The call for the dismantling of colonialism in all its manifestations is thus age old, giving credence to the permanence of the revolution.
It did not matter which part of the continent these activists found themselves, it did not matter that these young people found themselves in the so-called Lusophone or Francophone occupied states, the palpable resolve was that of their desire for true freedom, a desire for true liberation of Black people. It was thus inevitable that some of them would meet their ancestors in foreign lands, like it happened to Tsietsi, that he had to meet his death in Conakry, Guinea, in lands far from his birthplace. AZAPO had to fulfil its revolutionary duty of bringing his body home to be buried among his people.
As we march towards the 46th anniversary of the June 16 Uprisings, tracing their footsteps, we ought to take our hats off and dip our heads in their memory and wish they rest in glory and rise in power. For they contributed to the path that put us where we are, despite the pivots and deviations that we experienced along the way. This is why we have to consistently fight against forgetting. Fight against forgetting the contributions of those who had to die so that we can lay claim to the freedoms that we celebrate across the continent of Afrika.
It was a struggle for liberation from the yoke of colonialism, racism and imperialism that made us to commit ourselves to the cause of our people. It is this commitment, driven by the lived experiences and realities of our people’s destitution and poverty strewn not only in Azania but across our beloved Afrika, that compelled us to care less about our lives and care more about our lands and their people.
Colonialism in all its manifestations has left us as Afrikan people bare, hungry, without dignity and lacking confidence in who we really are. You see this through the embrace of the value systems, cultures and traditions that are foreign to Afrika at huge cost to our people and their heritage. It is now common experience to see Portuguese, French and English being the first language of communication at homes of families of Black people. Our people will tell you how difficult it is to have a decent household conversation in Afrikan indigenous languages as they seamlessly transition to the borrowed languages of the European invaders. We also see this at our weddings where our people will first wed in the tradition of the invaders before transitioning to an Afrikan wedding. It gets worse when some amongst us embrace rampant institutional racism as manifested by the Stellenbosch boys’ fiasco where our young Black brother seem to have allegedly understood when the white boy told him it is white thing to urinate on Black people. We now hear that the father to our young Black brother is considering overtures for reconciliation on the matter. This is summed up in one word: Indoctrination!
At the point of attainment of the freedoms we celebrate yearly, we entrusted our leaders with the responsibility to take us forward to a life we lived only in our dreams. A life free of hunger and poverty, where each will willingly contribute to its betterment according to one’s ability. Land, self-determination, and the ushering in of socialism was the war cry by all struggle activists irrespective of the nation states they came from. This was our cry. Our Azania is still to repossess the land of our forefathers despite the 28 years of independence. It is colonialist indoctrination that makes the majority of the oppressed people who occupy the echelons of our parliament to continue to wonder if it is the correct thing to legislate for the transfer of our land from the beneficiaries of white racism to Black people.
It is little wonder then that the blood and sacrifice of our brothers and sisters with whom these freedoms we attained is tainted and stained by some amongst us when they realised the taste of power, leading to the restlessness of their spirits. No sooner were the vestiges of power in their hands had the usurpers imperiled the meaning we gave to our freedoms by ensuring that those we trust as our leaders will be the ones who will continue to do their bidding and protect their interests. The result is that despite the declared freedom that our country celebrated on April 27, 1994, our people remain landless and economically deprived leaving the majority languishing in poverty and powerlessness in an independent country. The South African election on April 27, 1994 was just an inflection point in our revolution that substantively derailed us and caused our people to remain where they were before the attainment of freedom without them doing anything about it. This is largely because the people in charge of the levers of power and decision making look the same as those who fought for liberation, which makes rising against them more difficult. This is the essence of neo-colonialism.
Its essence is that which leads to Afrikan people fighting amongst themselves for the crumbs left by the usurpers of our capital and nation states while the masses continue to wallow in man-made poverty. It is the essence of neo-colonialism that makes people measure the independence of their country by its ability to borrow huge sums of money from capital yet remain in bondage, lacking ownership to the means of wealth production. Our Afrikan countries continue to carry the richest and expensive mineral deposits at their bowels, yet beneficiation that should be a major source of income and a boost to Afrika’s development happens elsewhere. Ours is to borrow from the profits of its sales to benefit the elite amongst us.
64 years since the call for the founding of an Afrikan Freedom Day and 100s more years since Blacks waged wars against colonialism, the development of our Afrika is still dependent on the mercy of the usurpers. Simple things like traveling to some of our countries in Afrika is a nightmare. Just recently, in this Afrika month, we witnessed a Presidential election in Somalia culminating from an arduous election process that could not conclude until the IMF, the managers of capital, threatened to withdraw the $400 million loan that was to be granted conditional to the conclusion of that election before end May.
Is it not revealing that it was only Eritrea that voted against the resolution to condemn Russia in the Russia/Ukraine conflict? Many of the Afrikan countries chose to vote with their masters while others opted to either abstain or be absent. The decisions for Afrika and about Afrika are still largely dependent on the interests of the beneficiaries of our capital resources at the expense of the real owners of capital. The painful reality is that Afrika continues to remain an appendage to the erstwhile colonial masters because Afrikans allow it to be so.
History has taught us that the emphasis we put on the struggle for freedom from racism, colonialism and imperialism as opposed to the struggle for freedom for the control of the land and the economy of our nation states led our people to lower their guard and let slip of the hard-fought gains that accrued through blood and sacrifice. We trusted our comrades with our freedom. When we see the perpetuation of the worsening conditions of our people, we fail to recognize the role our own comrades are playing in that regard because they are our brothers and sisters. This is the danger of neocolonialism. This is the danger of indoctrination.
The biggest task faced by revolutionary movements across time remains the conscientisation of the people for whom liberation is fought about the importance of their true liberation. It is no mean responsibility to convince the suffering of their suffering more so when the now perpetrator of that suffering happens to be a brother or sister with whom they were in the same trenches fighting along each other against the very suffering. The fight to dismantle neo-colonialism requires Afrika to commit to building solidarity amongst her people, not for sentimental reasons but for the common good of our humanity. This is possible if people realise the need to rally together as a group driven by the experience of their lived realities. It is possible when people are so conscientized of their present reality of their lived experiences that they would choose to rise and actively continue with the revolution in pursuit of their true liberation. Steve Biko puts it thus:
“We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth. These are concepts which the Black Consciousness approach wishes to eradicate from the black man’s mind before our society is driven to chaos by irresponsible people from Coca-cola and hamburger cultural backgrounds.” (Black Consciousness and the Quest for a True Humanity, I Write What I Like, 1978:101)
We must take heed from Kwame Nkrumah’s advice while addressing the OAU summit in Cairo in 1964 when he cautioned:
“By far the greatest wrong which the departing colonialists inflicted on us, and which we now continue to inflict on ourselves in our present state of disunity, was to leave us divided into economically unviable States which bear no possibility of real development. We must unite for economic viability, first of all and then to recover our mineral wealth in Africa so that our vast resources and capacity development will bring prosperity for us and additional benefits for the rest of the world” OAU, Cairo Summit, 1964.
As we commemorate this 59th anniversary of Afrika Liberation Day, we will do well to remember that its genesis was about the decolonization of Afrika in all its manifestations, from classical colonialism to the present-day neo-colonialism. The palpable lack of leadership in driving this agenda forward leaves the responsibility to the current generation to produce amongst themselves new layers of leadership that will fulfil the imagination and mandate of our forebears and move forward with the revolution. It is now in the hands of our people. But they need revolutionaries to show up. The revolution is permanent, and AZAPO is ready for revolution.
Forward with the revolution!