Obi Egbuna Jr Simunye
During an interview with Playboy magazine in January of 1965 conducted by the author of the book later adapted to a television mini-series “Roots” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, Mr Alex Haley posed the following question to the internationally renowned civil and human rights champion Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Do you feel that the African Nations, in turn, should involve themselves more actively in American Negro affairs? The epic answer by Dr King was as follows “I do indeed. The world is now so small in terms of geographic proximity and mutual problems that no nation should idly stand by and watch another’s plight.
“I think that at every possible instance Africans should use the influence of their governments to make it clear that the struggle of their brothers in the US is part of a worldwide struggle. In short, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, for we are tied together in a garment of mutuality. What happens in Johannesburg affects Birmingham, however indirectly. We are descendants of the Africans. Our heritage is Africa. We should never break the ties, nor should the Africans.”
Because this compelling answer by Dr King has both theoretical and practical implications, we are historically obligated to address the following questions, the first would naturally be, is there an African head of state bold enough to agree to raise the issues of so-called African Americans?, the second would be, would so-called African Americans come to their defence when they incur the wrath of US-EU Imperialism for taking such a bold and visionary stand?
The last and perhaps most formidable question would be, are so-called African-Americans courageous enough to even approach and engage an African head of state whose character and policies have been completely maligned by US-EU Imperialism?
As this year marks the 40th anniversary of what could be labeled Mother Africa’s most devastating political tragedy, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s government being overthrown by the CIA-orchestrated coup alongside British intelligence; It must be stated that Mr Haley’s question to Dr King is indeed two-fold.
The other part must address how so-called African-Americans deal with US policy on Africa. This shameful atrocity was committed while Dr King and his wife Coretta Scott King were dinner guests of the most Honourable Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, at his private residence in Chicago.
Another historical irony was that Osagyefo was on the way to Hanoi to present a proposal to end the Vietnam War, which as we know voicing his displeasure concerning this issue ultimately cost Dr King his life.
Since Dr King ended Mr Haley’s question by stressing the importance of never breaking the ties between African born in Mother Africa and so-called African Americans born inside US borders, it is only fair to begin by analysing how Dr King’s closest confidants, in particular and the Civil Rights movement in general, along with organised formations who consider the distinguished fighters and groups from this era their inspiration for being involved, have dealt with US-EU Policy on Zimbabwe.
Shortly before the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington in 2003, former US Congressman Reverend Walter Fauntroy had visited Harare and was granted the opportunity to have a private audience with President Mugabe. During this discussion, Reverend Fauntroy made a verbal commitment to use the platform of the march to raise the issue of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe, the reason President Mugabe was pleased to explore this strategy was, not one member of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against the sanctions.
The end result was, at no point during the march did Reverend Fauntroy mention a need to make Zimbabwe an issue of importance.
In a private capacity, Reverend Fauntroy stated he felt that it was rather odd that African countries with a revolutionary pedigree like Zimbabwe, hired Caucasian-owned and run law firms to do their public relations and consulting without even considering people like him for the job. In April of 2014 and January 2015, two so-called African Americans, Prince Asiel Ben Israel and C Gregory Turner, were sent to prison for failure to register as agents for a foreign government.
Mr Ben Israel pled guilty and was sentenced to seven months in prison, while Mr Turner pleaded not guilty received 15 months in prison under the guise of illegally lobbying to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe.
According to the prosecutors, Mr Ben Israel and Mr Turner were to receive $3,4 million to lobby for the lifting of the sanctions. Without debating the accuracy of this point, the fundamental question still has to be raised with Reverend Fauntroy, Mr Ben Israel and Mr Turner, should President Mugabe and zanu-pf have to pay a king’s ransom to so-called African Americans to get them to fight to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe?
Zimbabweans still are trying to put behind them the shameful and unacceptable manner that former US Congressman Mel Reynolds came to Zimbabwe and attempted to con government officials into believing he could had the influence to help build a Hilton Hotel in Zimbabwe.
It must not be forgotten that Mr Reynolds was introduced to President Mugabe by Reverend Jesse Jackson in New York City at the UN General Assembly.
The day before this meeting, Reverend Jackson had audience with the former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai, who attempted to come to the US and upstage President Mugabe’s delegation at the UN, even though he was part of the inclusive government at that particular time.
When highlighting his conversation with the Press that were part of President Mugabe’s delegation, Reverend Jackson admitted that it was an error on his part not to use his historic campaigns for the US Presidency not to call on the President Carter as a private citizen and President Reagan to honour the Lancaster House Agreement. Reverend Jackson also admitted that at no point did his organisation, the Rainbow Coalition, actively lobby to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe.
History will judge what was worse, not fighting to lift sanctions or exposing Zimbabwe to a two bit hustler like Mel Reynolds.
In 2003, the head of the New York office of the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Attorney Michael Hardy had told the former Zimbabwean Ambassador to the US Dr Simbi Mubako, that NAN would like to explore the possibility of creating a humanitarian centre in Zimbabwe. When asked to be part of a delegation to observe the 2005 Parliamentary elections, he stated that NAN would want to meet Mr Tsvangirai as a precondition for making the trip.
One of Dr King’s closest aides, Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker and a founding member of CORE, Reverend George Houser, who was a recipient of the Oliver Tambo Award from South African President Jacob Zuma in 2010 and founded the American Committee on Africa in 1953, have never called for the lifting of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Reverend Houser transitioned last August and Reverend Walker also started the Religious Action Network of Africa Action, which is one of the organisations that is guilty of funneling National Endowment for Democracy blood money to 14 civil society groups in Zimbabwe.
Those who have heard President Mugabe reflect on the Lancaster House negotiations know he is extremely fond of Ambassador Andrew Young, who represented the Carter Administration during that engagement process.
As a special envoy for US Secretary of State John Kerry, Ambassador Young met with President Mugabe before the 2013 elections. This was Ambassador Young’s first visit to Zimbabwe since 2003, where he agreed to lobby for the lifting of US-EU sanctions behind closed doors.
After being in power for 36 years, President Mugabe and zanu-pf have come to the realisation that while Dr King’s disciples are very visible and well respected, health, old age and being hostage to the agenda of the Democratic Party prevent them from leading the fight to lift US-EU sanctions to the very end.
The beauty of this is President Mugabe and zanu-pf may not even be familiar with the comrades leading this fight, which means they are not seeking compensation or recognition
Obi Egbuna Jr is the US correspondent to The Herald and the external relations officer of Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association (ZICUFA). His email is [email protected]