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24 February 2012



Written by Chinweizu
Monday, 16 July 2007

Garveyism not Continentalism is what Black Africa Needs By Chinweizu


1] The essence of Garveyism consisted of two projects:

A] Black Governments:

Here is Garvey’s conclusion, a century ago, after traveling in the Americas and Europe and informing himself on the situation, world wide, of Blacks [Negroes]:
I asked: “Where is the black man’s Government?” “Where is his King and his kingdom?” “Where is his President, his country, and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs?” I could not find them, and then I declared, “I will help to make them.” [P&O,II:126]

And he formed the UNIA to help do that.

B] A Black Superpower in Africa:

In the 1920s, Garvey diagnosed the global prospect of the Blacks and prescribed the remedy when he said:

The Negro is dying out . . . There is only one thing to save the Negro, and that is an immediate realization of his own responsibilities. Unfortunately we are the most careless and indifferent people in the world! We are shiftless and irresponsible . . . It is strange to hear a Negro leader speak in this strain, as the usual course is flattery, but I would not flatter you to save my own life and that of my own family. There is no value in flattery. . . . Must I flatter you when I find all other peoples preparing themselves for the struggle to survive, and you still smiling, eating, dancing, drinking and sleeping away your time, as if yesterday were the beginning of the age of pleasure? I would rather be dead than be a member of your race without thought of the morrow, for it portends evil to him that thinketh not. Because I cannot flatter you I am here to tell, emphatically, that if we do not seriously reorganize ourselves as a people and face the world with a program of African [Negro] nationalism our days in civilization are numbered, and it will be only a question of time when the Negro will be as completely and complacently dead as the North American Indian, or the Australian Bushman. [P&O, II:101-102]

This is the danger point. What will become of the Negro in another five hundred years if he does not organize now to develop and to protect himself? The answer is that he will be exterminated for the purpose of making room for the other races . . . [P&O, I:66]

[T]he Negro peoples of the world should concentrate upon the object of building up for themselves a great nation in Africa. . . .[ P&O, I:68]

We [in the UNIA] are determined to solve our own problem, by redeeming our Motherland Africa from the hands of alien exploiters and . . .[by] the creating for ourselves [there] of a political superstate . . . a government, a nation of our own, strong enough to lend protection to the members of our race scattered all over the world, and to compel the respect of the nations and races of the earth. . . . [P&O, I:52; II:16; I:52]

Go ahead, Negroes, and organize yourselves! You are serving your race and guaranteeing to posterity of our own an existence which otherwise will be denied them. Ignore the traps of persuasion, advice and alien leadership. No one can be as true to you as you can be to yourself. To suggest that there is no need for Negro racial organization in a well-planned and arranged civilization like that of the twentieth century is but to, by the game of deception, lay the trap for the destruction of a people whose knowledge of life is incomplete, owing to their misunderstanding of man’s purpose in creation. [P&O, II:16]

2] Continentalism

Continentalism is the doctrine and project of uniting the entire continent of Africa, uniting all the races that now live on it, black and white, Negro and Arab, preferably under one government that will rule the entire continent. This project has been going on since the 1958 Conference of Independent African States that was held in Accra, Ghana. It produced the Afro-Arab OAU, then the present Afro-Arab AU [Africa Unmanned/Arabist Underwear], which is on the brink of transforming into an Afro-Arab USofAfrica.

By the end of the 20th century, with the rise of black-ruled countries in Africa and the diaspora, Garvey’s first project was realized, but only partly so, since these black comprador governments remain fronts and agents for white supremacy and White power and none has become a Government of black people, by black people, and for black people.

Moreover, none of these black-mask governments of White Supremacy has dared to embark on the second and vitally urgent Garvey project of creating a Black superpower that would be in the same power rank as China and the G-8.

The dangers which Garvey pointed out in the 1920s are still with the black race. If anything, they have been intensified and augmented by such disasters as the AIDSbombing of Black Africa by the USA and the WHO; Arab expansionism and colonialism in the Afro-Arab conflict zone that stretches from Mauritania to Somalia, including the Afro-Arab war theatres in Chad, Darfur and South Sudan; UN Imperialism which, through the IMF, World Bank and WTO, has inflicted Debt Trap Peonage, economic maldevelopment, and deepening poverty on the Black countries of the world. Black powerlessness continues without letup. And the black extinction that Garvey alerted us to is already underway.

Whereas Garveyism correctly focuses on our developing the Black Power we need to defeat these dangers and protect ourselves from all dangers; Continentalism says nothing at all about Power, let alone about Black Power. It doesn’t even offer to create Black Unity. Its focus is on unification of the entire continent, which translates into Afro-Arab unification. Since the Arabs have, for nearly two thousand years, been White invaders, exploiters and enslavers of Black Africa, Afro-Arab unification is like a unification of black lambs with white lions that eat lambs—a unification whereby the lambs end up in the stomach of the lions! The Arabs would naturally love, welcome and eagerly promote such unification. But isn’t it suicidal for the Black Africans to agree to it, let alone campaign eagerly for it—as some have done for the last 50 years?

For that basic reason, Continentalism, with all its projects –OAU/AU, USofAfrica, is the mortal enemy of Black Africans.

Those Blacks who are deluded into thinking that Afro-Arab unification would be good for Black Africans would do well to find out just how rosy life has been for those blacks who have lived under Arab colonialism since the 1950s, and especially in Darfur and South Sudan, where the blacks have taken up armed struggle to escape Arab colonialism and racism.

3] The Garveyite Black Survival Project

We do not need to politically integrate or federate all the 53 Arab and Black African neo-colonial states on the African continent to produce a Black African superstate that can protect all Black Africans wherever they are on earth.

To implement the Garvey idea, what we need, above all, is just one Black African country, big and industrialized enough, and therefore powerful enough to be of G-8 rank, a country that could serve as the core state– protector and leader—of Global Black Africa.

We also need a Black African League that shall be the collective security organization of Global Black Africa, our equivalent of NATO and the defunct Warsaw Pact. These are the two things we need in this 21st century to implement the Garvey requirement for Black African survival.

For building a Black African superpower, as urged by Garvey, an ECOWAS or SADC Federation, or some equivalent in East or Central Africa is more than enough. Just one of them, if integrated and industrialized by 2060, would meet the need. ECOWAS or SADC is big enough in territorial size, population and resource endowment to become an industrialized world power provided its neo-colonial character is eliminated.

Let us look at the numbers:

Country AREA in sq. km Population in 1993

ECOWAS 6.5m 185m

SADC 7m 130m

Brazil 8.5m 156m

USA 9.5m 256m

Russia 17.1m 148m

India 3.3m 900m

China 9.6m 1.2b

EU 2.4m 350m

ECOWAS, with 16 states, 6.5m sq. km and nearly 200m population; or SADC, with 11states, 7m sq km and some 130m population–would be a country of sub-continental size, and in the megastate league, in territory and population and resources, to which belong the USA—with 9m sq. km and some 260m people; Brazil—with 8.5m sq. km. and 156m people; and Russia, India etc. ECOWAS or SADC, if properly integrated, industrialized, and thoroughly decolonized, would be a megastate of the type Black Africa needs. So why don’t we get on with the task of building each into a power of G-8 rank? Why set off on the false, diversionary and dangerous mission of Arab-Black African state integration of the impotent neo-colonialist OAU/AU/USAfrica type?

Of course, ending their neo-colonial character is anathema to the Black colonialists who now misrule the Black African countries. These compradors would rather set off on the quest for an unjustified USofAfrica that would still have the neo-colonial character that suits the comprador interest and temperament.

The second component of the Garvey project is to replace the OAU/AU with a proper collective security organization for Global Black Africa, an organization to which the Black African Diaspora countries and communities will rightfully belong. It is one of the blemishes of Continentalist Pan-Africanism that it is embodied, at the interstate level, in an OAU/AU from which the Diaspora originators of Pan Africanism have long been excluded whereas the Arab enemies of Black Africa are, not only members, but the dominant bloc. The Black African Diaspora are only now being brought into the OAU/AU structures as an afterthought and as no more than second-class members. That is not how it should be.

The history of Black Africans demands that we replace the Arab-castrated OAU/AU with a blacks-only collective security organization, and not with yet another Arab-castrated outfit called the USofAfrica.
Unless the members of a group are keen for their group to survive, the group will most probably not survive; for its members will fail to do what must be done for their group to survive. And any such group does not deserve to survive.

If Black Africans wish to survive, they must profoundly change their priorities: Not slothful consumerism here on earth, not paradise for their souls in the hereafter, but collective security here on earth must become their ruling passion.

Those Black Africans who are keen for the Black African people to survive in the 21st century and beyond will have to ensure that the Garvey Black survival project is accomplished in the shortest possible time, starting yesterday. They have two paramount tasks to accomplish simultaneously: (1) They must, by all means necessary, politically integrate, and complete the abandoned decolonization of, ECOWAS and SADC, and effect their exit from maldevelopment by industrializing them into powers of G-8 rank. (2) They must build a Black African League that will organize the collective security of the Black African World.
About the author:

Chinweizu is an institutionally unaffiliated Afrocentric scholar. A historian and cultural critic, his books include The West and the Rest of Us (1975), Second, enlarged edition (1987); Invocations and Admonitions (1986); Decolonising the African Mind (1987); Voices from Twentieth-century Africa (1988); Anatomy of Female Power (1990). He is also a co-author of Towards the Decolonization of African Literature (1980). His pamphlets include The Black World and the Nobel (1987); and Recolonization or Reparation? (1994) He lives in Lagos, Nigeria

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