When I spoke with African National Congress officials in the early 1980s they were struggling to defeat the apartheid policies of the “white government.” I wanted to know what the ANC attitude was toward Fourth World nations and the role of such nations in the future of the African continent. I was sharply admonished and told to understand that the ANC was opposed to nations and nationalism…”we want control of the South African State,” my informant said. I protested that there were many nations inside the boundaries of South Africa and “don’t they have a right to their own political identity?” “No!” I was told. I later learned when the formerly imprisoned Nelson Mandela spoke at an assembly in Nevada, USA that this courageous and celebrated leader of the ANC movement who became President of South Africa adamantly opposed “anything tribal.” He opposed any return to the primitive tribe.
In my search for answers about the present and future status of Fourth World nations I contacted the Southwest African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) in the early 1980s then involved in an insurgency to gain control over Namibia with the intent of establishing an independent Namibian state. I asked about SWAPO’s intentions and attitudes toward the many Fourth World nations inside the Namibian colony. “We are not interested in the tribes, only Namibians,” I was told. Again I heard what I considered a surprising response from “revolutionary Africans:” opposition to the emergence and political recognition of Fourth World nations and their subordination to state power. Today the state of Namibia is engaged in a violent confrontation with nations located in the Caprivi Strip–a country attached to Namibia in the northeast despite opposition from the nations within.
The Lesotho paramount leader Moshoeshoe II wore a leopard skin, had fathered children in virtually all Lesotho villages and ruled this African country until his death in 1996. Asked by a reporter what he thought about the new leaders being black Africans in many countries: “I think they are no better than the white rulers.” The new black leaders, Moshoeshoe said, have learned from their schooling in England and other white schools only how to be white and not African. “They want to be like the white people,” he said.
Africa has been occupied by European states for more than six hundred years. Yes, it is true that the early occupations were only on the coasts, but later these countries penetrated into the heart of Africa and it is there that they remain. Many leaders in Africa are decedent from African peoples, but they want desperately to be thought of as equal to their former colonial masters. They rule states that were invented in Europe at the close of the 30 years war in 1648. These states are not African. Their boundaries have nothing to do with the peoples of Africa.
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe is one of those who fails to lead as an African…he is merely a new colonial.
Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo is also one of those who failed to lead as an African. He too is merely a new colonial.
There is a new generation of leaders who seek to recognize and affirm the political identity and cultural importance of African nations–the original peoples of the African continent. Sub-Saharan Africa is now beginning to see the reemergence of Africa’s nations–the most prominent of which is Biafra. Yes, that country devastated by Nigerian and British forces in 1967-1970 is once again preparing to affirm its identity as an African Nation. Led by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign state of Biafra (MASOB) may well define what an African nation ought to be in the 21st century. Not a remnant of the colonial era, but an affirmation of the original African continent. Perhaps African political development is now occurring with Biafra. Africa may now restore Africa.
(c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here