Obi Egbuna Jnr Simunye
WHEN we analyse Mother Africa’s propaganda war with US-EU Imperialism, it should be not only understood, but accepted that there are no rules or parameters.
All this means is if there is an unwillingness to remain impervious in the face of the most racist lies, insults and attacks, whether they come from colonialist and imperialist heads of state or individuals, we are reduced to what can be best described by the title of the 1985 album of R&B icon Grace Jones “Slave to the Rhythm”.
Any verbal attack on Mother Africa by her former colonisers and enslavers not only should serve as the ultimate reminder, of the physical, cultural and historical disconnect, but the role of education in the African Cultural and Historical Reclamation Movement.
During the 2015 Sadc Summit that took place in Zimbabwe at Mosi oa Tunya (Victoria Falls), what was equally as important as witnessing Zimbabwe’s former President and liberation icon Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe assuming leadership of the region en route to becoming the chair of the entire African Union, was the announcement of the completion of the late Brigadier- General and former Foreign Minister of Tanzania Hashim Mbita’s Research Project that was officially announced by his courageous daughter Sheila Mbita. The follow up to this was when Cde Mugabe officially presented the finished product to the African Union during its 26th ordinary assembly.
This robust body of work chronicles the stories and legacies of nine Sadc countries courtesy of a nine volume set, which is only fitting since General Mbita had the distinction of being the Executive Secretary of the OAU Liberation Committee at the height of the resistance against colonialism in the Sadc region.
When a project of this magnitude is completed, the challenge that stares the people it was created to benefit and empower in the face, is the enviable task of ensuring that it is not underutilised or end up collecting dust like thousands of books in libraries the world over.
Because of the striking and undeniable similarities between the liberation struggles in Southern Africa and the struggles against slavery segregation and dehumanisation in the United States, it only makes historical sense that the HBCUS (Historical Black Colleges and Universities in the South) should be ready to receive General Mbita’s work with open arms.
The discipline and vision of General Mbita demonstrated by completing this magnificent project must serve as a reminder to US-EU Imperialism, that the narrative that is the root of the AFRICOM (US Africa Military Command) agenda, whose aim is to paint the picture that Mother Africa is militarily barbaric and uncivilised, will blow up in their faces similar to a volcanic eruption.
Since Africans are accustomed to navigating on a daily basis between a sandwich of tragedy and irony, that makes any Shakespearean drama look like a Walt Disney cartoon, we are confident that the HBCUS in Alabama that are shaped by the struggles in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, Loundes County and Tuskegee learn about the Hashim Mbita Research Project, they will line up to accept it like fans of the Pop Icon Michael Jackson waited an eternity for tickets to watch his dazzling concerts.
The educational branch and the Mbita family must already know in the State of Alabama alone these are the following HBCUS that can be strategically targeted Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Bishop State University, Concordia College, Gadsden State Community College, Trenholm State Technical College, Drake State Technical College, Lawson State Community College, Miles College, Oakwood University, Selma University, Shelton State University, Stillman College, Talladega College, Tuskegee University.
As we anticipate the impact that ensuring General Mbita’s work finds its way to the HBCUS in the South as a launching pad, in the never ending struggle to merge the experiences to present the resistance against Chattel Slavery and Settler Colonialism as one inseparable story, our students will also understand why we felt historically obligated to form unbreakable ties with all these liberation movements.
Because of the love affair between the key organised formations that make up the Civil/Human Rights movement inside US borders and the African National Congress (Mother Africa’s oldest liberation movement), the ball started rolling many moons ago, however we cannot allow our collective interpretation of developments in Sadc to be reduced to the biography of Madiba Nelson Mandela individually and the ANC collectively.
This includes formations like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute who already have ties with the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, just up the road in Selma we have both the Voting Right Museum and the Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum, in Montgomery there is the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has a Museum whose theme is from Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.
The EJI has taken a particular interest in highlighting the work of WEB Du Bois and Ida B Wells and their heroic crusade against lynching, which is compatible to Dr King and Rosa Parks’ resistance to modern day segregation or Reverend Jesse Jackson’s role in the struggle for Voting Rights. One can only imagine EJI’s executive director connecting the hanging of Mbuya Nehanda to these efforts.
Another key player in this process must be the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre, which can be plugged into the Moorland Spingarn Research Centre at Howard University and the Schomburg Research in Black Culture.
This provides English speaking Africans another golden opportunity to make our former colonisers and enslavers regret the day, they decided to impose their language on us through force.
General Mbita’s work must find its way to the Selma Truth and Reconciliation Centre where the Master Teacher of the Centre Distinguished SNCC and SCLC Alum would be tickled pink to learn that before the Sadc liberation movements decided to take up arms for liberation, they too like CORE and SCLC studied the strategies and tactics of Mahatma Gandhi.
Another aspect of this linkage helps illuminate the reason that the war criminal J. Edgar Hoover had sleepless nights about how HBCUS had become by circumstance, training grounds for the Civil/Human Rights, Black Arts, Anti War movement, is identical to how Fort Hare University was a rite of passage for many of Sadc’s most decorated icons and warriors Tanzania’s first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, Herbert Chitepo, Robert Mugabe, Madiba Nelson Mandela to name a few.
General Mbita’s project also will serve as a vehicle that shows the invaluable role of the teacher in the liberation struggle in both the Sadc region of Africa and the Southern part of the US, the role played by former Morehouse University President Benjamin Mays and Liberation theologian Howard Thurman played in the ideological development of Dr King, is similar to how Cde R.G. Mugabe, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe used their academic training to politically educate the youth of Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa, who found their way to the battlefield after the much needed intellectual nourishment they received from these great comrades.
General Mbita’s project reminds us of the trials and tribulations of both Dr WEB Du Bois, who even Africa’s most hateful enemies consider the father of US Sociology and Dr Carter G. Woodson, who we call the Father of African History, when they were trying to create Encyclopedia Africana, Du Bois first began this undertaking in 1909 the same year he helped create the NAACP.
What Dr DuBois and Dr, Woodson both discovered was that no funding would come inside US borders, coincidentally Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah who was born in 1909 informed Dr Du Bois he would be willing to bankroll this heroic and visionary undertaking.
There is no reason why the Association for the Study of African American Life and History that Dr. Woodson founded in 1915 cannot make an appeal for General Mbita’s work.
Let us give these fallen giants a reason to smile from the African Ancestral World by using their works merge our experiences once and for all. This way Mother Africa’s children never forget we are one people with one history and one vision.
- Obi Egbuna Jnr is the US Correspondent to the Herald and External Relations Officer of Zicufa (Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association). His email is [email protected]