By Gerald A. Perreira
Until the philosophy / that holds one race superior / and another inferior / is finally and permanently / discredited and abandoned / Everywhere is war.
Both the Bible and the Quran warn us that the devil is the author of lies and confusion.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us to recognize the nature of the devil and how the devil operates in the contemporary context. He taught us to see the devil not as some mythical figure, but as a reality, a living force moving amongst us, who knows its time is up and will do anything to maintain its rule upon the earth. This worldview is way outside the bounds of Western discourse, but integral to an understanding of what is really taking place in Mali and across the region.
The situation in Mali is not that confusing – actually it’s as simple as this:
Go back many years. Imagine you are the Brother Leader Muammar Qaddafi. Your goal is one of a unified, strong Africa, able to throw off the yoke of imperialism and neo-colonialism. You know that Africa’s liberation cannot be realized without unity, and also that the first step on this long journey is to rid Africa of its remaining inept, neo-colonial regimes.
Leading the African Union meant that Qaddafi had to deal at a state to state level with the very neo-colonial regimes that he also knew had to be removed. To further complicate the matter, Qaddafi had long-standing and strong relationships with a number of liberation movements, revolutionary organizations and parties throughout Africa that were opposing the neo-colonial regimes in some of these countries.
All sides of the political and ideological divide knew this about Qaddafi – that he had assisted liberation struggles throughout Africa and for that matter throughout the world, with the sole intention of achieving African liberation and the victory of the oppressed worldwide. That his intentions were genuine was clear, since in many instances, under his leadership, Libya provided assistance to groups which definitely did more harm than good to Libya’s geo-political interests, simply complicating things for this often beleaguered nation.
I recently heard a National Geographic travel writer, trying to pass himself off as an expert on North Africa and in particular Libya and Mali, saying that Qaddafi played one tribe off against the other. What nonsense!
When I hear European journalists and some African factotums talking about Qaddafi playing one tribe off against the other, then I realize that we have to tell this story. Muammar Qaddafi was listened to by all sides, which is why he was so often asked to mediate in negotiations to resolve conflicts. Only someone who had not been at these meetings and did not understand the ancient and complex nature of the African environment could dismiss what Qaddafi was doing as “playing one off against the other.”
On our own terms – African solutions to African problems
Those involved in the struggle for African unity know that mediating in the affairs of tribes cannot be achieved within the confines of the Westminster model of governance. Qaddafi was struggling to make peace in Africa in order to lay the groundwork for real development and liberation. As already mentioned, he understood that the only way for Africa to be free was for Africa and Africans, on the continent and in the Diaspora, to unite into a power bloc, and he also knew that it was imperative to apply African solutions to African problems.
In this framework of inter-connectedness, the prosperity of one means the prosperity of the other. Instead of pitting the interests of the individual and the community against one another, as is found in both capitalist and communist states, African communalism, or what Qaddafi refers to as “natural socialism” recognizes the interests of all.
African philosopher, Polycarp Ikuenobe points out: “While Africans recognize that individuals have natural rights, which derive from their natural individuality, interests and desires, these rights and individuality would be abstract and meaningless except when they are contextualized, made substantive, given material contents and made meaningful in the context of a community.”
The detached, atomized individual is a European concept and is alien to the African traditions of Ubuntu, Ujamaa and Ishtirakiyah, principles which form the foundation of systems of governance based on African communalism or what was referred to in the Libyan Jamahiriya as “natural socialism.”
Instead of pitting the interests of the individual and the community against one another, as is found in both capitalist and communist states, African communalism, or what Qaddafi refers to as “natural socialism” recognizes the interests of all.
Where the multi-party system, emerging as it did out of the European cultural and historical context, tends to fragment and divide, the Jamahiriyan system seeks to build social cohesion, unity and partnership.
In the Green Book, Qaddafi outlines clearly the social architecture that derives from what he understands to be a “natural order”:
“The tribe is an extended family that has grown as a result of procreation. The tribe is in effect a large extended family, and it then follows that the nation is the tribe that has also grown as a result of procreation. The nation is a large extended tribe; and the world is the nation that has diversified into a multitude of nations. The world therefore is an enlarged nation.
“The relationship that binds a family together is the same relationship which binds the tribe together, the nation and the world. Nevertheless, the larger the multitude of people, the weaker this bond becomes … This is a sociological fact, denied only by the ignorant.
“… This is why it is very important for the human community to preserve the cohesion of the family, the tribe, the nation and the world, in order to profit from the advantages, benefits, values and ideals yielded by the solidarity, cohesion, unity, familiarity and love of the family, tribe, nation and humanity … (T)he tribe provides its members with the natural benefits and social advantages that the family provides for its members, for the tribe is a secondary family. It is worth mentioning here that an individual may sometimes behave in a dishonorable manner that a family will not condone; yet because the family is relatively small in size, this individual will not be aware of its supervision. In contrast, individuals, as members of the tribe, cannot be free of its watchful eyes.”
Both groups had managed to keep their African traditions and culture alive, despite having been marginalized under colonialism and by successive neo-colonial regimes. This conception of culture is also why, from the outset of the Al Fateh revolution in 1969, Qaddafi necessarily rejected the Western multi-party parliamentary system and Western ideologies.
In 2010, at a meeting in Tripoli, Qaddafi addressed 175 traditional leaders from across the African continent. He told them that “African traditions were being replaced with Western culture and that multi-party politics was destroying Africa.” The chiefs agreed, accusing Africa’s political leaders of “neglecting traditional values and marginalizing Africa’s indigenous institutions.”
Yahaya Ezemoo Ndu, leader of Nigeria’s African Renaissance Party and chairperson of the newly formed Pan-African international, ARM, in a recent interview, quoted Professor Catherine Achaolonu-Olumba, when he warned Africans that if they failed to recognize the importance of their own culture and cultural institutions, they would never achieve liberation:
“To all Africans, Blacks and all deprived peoples all over the world, we say culture is everything! Those who took your cultures from you took everything from you. Your culture is your life, your past, your present, your science, your religion, your closest link to the One True God. You are your culture and your culture is all you have – it is your link to all knowledge available in the Universal Mind of the Creator. Your culture is you.”
Ndu went on to say: “Most of the problems confronting Africans are traceable to inappropriate governance systems. The Western World, led by the United States, has been forcing electocracy down the throat of Africans, claiming that it is ‘democracy,’ while in fact the United States does not experience and has never experienced true democracy.”
There are over 100 tribes in Libya alone and innumerable tribal groups throughout Africa. The concept of the “tribe” is misunderstood in European political discourse, and tribal forms of organization are automatically dismissed as being backward and having no merit. However, as Qaddafi rightfully acknowledges, family and tribe are the basis of all African societies and tribal forms of organization will never be relinquished.
The current nation-state borders in Africa are colonial constructs and often secondary to indigenous concepts of tribe and tribal nations. That is why tribes do not always recognize nation-state boundaries drawn up and left by the colonizers and furthermore why some tribes, even if they exist across a number of “nation-state” borders, can be considered as constituting a nation in and of themselves.
“The Western World, led by the United States, has been forcing electocracy down the throat of Africans, claiming that it is ‘democracy,’ while in fact the United States does not experience and has never experienced true democracy.”
This is one of the reasons why the imposition of the alien system of multi-partyism into Africa, where tribal loyalties are so honored, has led to disaster. Political parties can never demand the loyalty and support that one’s tribe can. Eventually, the multi-party system exacerbates any tribal conflict that exists and even creates tribal conflict where it did not previously exist. It actually works against the existing indigenous forms of social organization, creating chaos and failed states.
Abd-l Alkalimat points out the contradiction of importing the very systems which have been used to destroy us: “The basis for our social, political and economic systems can better be found among the communal traditions of our people rather than among those who have used their systems to oppress if not annihilate us.”
The success of a given system is entirely dependent on whether the particular system in place is in tune with and meets the needs of the people it is meant to serve.
“The basis for our social, political and economic systems can better be found among the communal traditions of our people rather than among those who have used their systems to oppress if not annihilate us.”
As Africans, our struggle must be focused on achieving our inalienable right to self-determination – to develop our own political and economic systems and put in place our own political structures, free of interference from the outside world. Only we can turn the tables – only we can achieve our own liberation from systems that continue to keep us in a state of dependency and disarray.
Talk is cheap …
Bringing about the kind of unity, prosperity and dignity that could lead to an independent and democratic United States of Africa is a long and tumultuous journey, which not everyone would have the courage to embark on. Theory is one thing, and a vital component; however, concrete action has to start somewhere.
Much analysis is produced by those who are not actively engaged in the struggle to change the world, but engaged only in interpreting it. They provide us with endless academic critiques of those who are active, finding fault with everything. The late African revolutionary Kwame Ture always said “never to waste our energies in lengthy conversation or debate with anyone who was not actively involved in the struggle for liberation in one way or other, since they would never be able to fully understand the issues at stake and would necessarily be dealing only with abstraction.”
Anyone who is engaged in struggle knows that the world is a brutal and complex arena. African unity is a journey that is fraught with overwhelming challenges that cannot always be resolved the way we would wish. This is not to act as an apologist for mistakes made, but simply to acknowledge that if criticism is to be constructive then it must be part of a discourse that is anchored in the reality of what it means to fight imperialism and injustice on all its fronts in 2013.
The intellectual warrior, Franz Fanon understood this, based on his own involvement in the Algerian struggle for liberation, when he boldly claimed: “Everybody will have to be compromised in the fight for the common good. No one has clean hands; there are no innocents and no onlookers. We all have dirty hands; we are all soiling them in the swamps of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.”
As we say in the Caribbean – “yuh think it easy?”
The Mali story …
When the progressive leader Amadou Toure was elected president of Mali in 2002, Muammar Qaddafi welcomed him onto the scene. Toure believed that African conflicts and problems should be resolved within the framework of the African Union and he supported the vision of a United States of Africa.
In such an environment, Qaddafi was able to broker a peace agreement between the Tuaregs and the Toure administration. Qaddafi had offered the Tuaregs what no one else had – to live in Libya with all of the benefits that that brought – free healthcare, education, housing etc. This was a gift to the Tuareg people and also in line with Qaddafi’s understanding of this part of the world outside of the boundaries of the artificial borders created by colonialism. In fact, the Libyan Jamahiriya had authorized Africans from all over the continent to cross its borders freely.
Once Qaddafi was murdered and Libya was handed over to the current barbaric alliance of Arab supremacists, monarchists and Al-Qaeda affiliated Wahabi-Salafi heretics, the Tuaregs, many of whom had been integrated into the Jamahiriyan military since the early ‘70s, had no choice but to return home.
What happened next?
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), largely made up of Tuareg returnees, laid claim to a land mass in Northern Mali which they call Azawad. They claimed Azawad as their ancestral homeland and it came under their jurisdiction with little opposition from the Malian army.
In 2009, there was a major Tuareg uprising against the Malian government and Muammar Qaddafi was asked by both sides to play a mediating role. During these negotiations, President Toure made a number of concessions, promising to address the legitimate long term grievances of the Tuareg. These promises were not honored, and with Qaddafi no longer there to guide and mediate and the Tuaregs now being forced to return to Mali, they had no choice but to claim their homeland.
President Toure quickly realized that a military solution was not possible and agreed to enter into negotiations with representatives of the MNLA. Days later, seemingly from out of nowhere, we saw a full blown coup in Mali. The U.S.-trained coup leader, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, opposed the idea of Tuareg autonomy. At the time of the coup, he claimed that President Toure was benefitting financially from the drug trade, suggesting that this was why he was ready to make concessions to the MNLA.
This was untrue. For one thing the MNLA are not the ones who are involved in the expansive and lucrative drug trade in the Sahel – in fact they oppose it. It is well documented that the drug traffickers are Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and their front organizations across the region. That is why Qaddafi said that the so-called rebels in Benghazi were not only affiliated with Al-Qaeda but were on drugs. It is interesting to note that Capt. Sanogo was photographed recently with U.S. Ambassador John Price, and the two were said to be laughing and talking like long lost friends. President Toure ended up in Senegal.
Next move …
Also, from out of nowhere, Salafi militias enter Mali – Ansar Al Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad – groups never before seen or heard of in Mali made up primarily of non-Malians and backed by guess who? Correct, the Gulf State Pretenders to Islam and NATO. They had one shared objective – to crush the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), since they shared Qaddafi’s vision for a united Africa and would have set up a Jamahiriya-type state, Azawad style.
And so they got rid of Toure and all hope of a peaceful solution to the issue of an autonomous Azawad and they unleashed their dogs of war, the Islamists, into Mali to beat back the progressive National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). The MNLA, however, were too clever to be seduced into an all out war with these foreign and reactionary Islamist forces, financed by one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism, the Qatari ruling elite, so they melted into the population, as only a liberation force with the backing of the people can do.
The MNLA had made it abundantly clear from the outset that they had no interest in seizing any territory outside of Azawad, including the capital Bamako, or causing havoc in Mali. This further ruffled the imperialists, since there is nothing they dislike more than the prospect of peaceful, progressive African based solutions to African conflicts.
With no MNLA to fight, the Islamists then proceeded to wreak havoc in Mali, as they do everywhere they are deployed, and went on a killing spree. And the French invaded to rein in their own proxy army, definitely not to save Malians from the brutality of the Islamists. The French realized that they had better rein in the dogs of war they themselves had unleashed, lest, unsuspectingly, while using the Islamists to prevent the huge deposits of uranium that France depends on for their continued energy supply from falling into MNLA hands, the Islamists themselves would steal Mali from under France’s nose.
European warlords in re-scramble for African resources
Unfortunately for Africa, we have everything that the U.S. and Europe want and need. The story is not as complex in Mali, or for that matter throughout Africa, as they would have us believe. Actually it is quite simple: The lifestyle enjoyed by Europeans on this earth – life as only they know it – is over without unfettered access to African resources.
With Qaddafi out of the way, one of the biggest remaining threats to their free reign in Africa is African resistance movements which are loyal to his vision. Groups such as the MNLA and JEM are high priority targets for imperialist military operations and their killer drones, a weapon straight out of their own sci-fi that enables them to kill by remote control. The U.S., imposing itself as the judge, jury and executioner, has killed thousands of human persons this way, while at the same time posturing as the world’s leading democrats. Their world is undeniably bizarre and Orwellian.
Unfortunately for Africa, we have everything that the U.S. and Europe want and need. The lifestyle enjoyed by Europeans on this earth – life as only they know it – is over without unfettered access to African resources.
It is estimated that there are over 60 drone bases in the U.S. alone and more than 60 across the globe. The most recently installed drone base is in Niger, Northwest Africa. The plan is for such bases to be installed throughout the continent. U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama has shown himself to be little more than a warlord and black only in color. Mentally incarcerated, he is the perfect candidate for the role of first Black U.S. president – and what a public relations coup: to have a Black man at the helm when re-colonizing Africa.
What a public relations coup: to have a Black man at the helm when re-colonizing Africa.
While the Euro-American ruling elite plunder the world’s resources, cynically paying lip service to the “American Dream,” the tragedy is that Barak Obama seems to believe in it. He has taken it upon himself to target for execution, at whim, anyone, anywhere in the world, whom the Empire deems necessary to exterminate in order to maintain White Supremacy. Make no mistake: The White House is still the White House.
Licensed to kill
It is reported that John Brennan, whose official title is “Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Assistant to the President,” draws up the weekly list of those targeted for assassination by drones. These lists are then signed off by the president at a meeting of “counterterrorism security officials” (War Council) held every Tuesday, now dubbed “kill list Tuesdays” in White House circles.
Only days ago, Tahir El-Faki, a spokesperson for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), accused the Bashir regime in Khartoum of transporting Salafi jihadists from Mali to North Darfur. He added that some of them had already been in Darfur before being moved to Mali last year. It was reported that the “Jihadists,” who are from different countries in the region, including Niger, Chad and Algeria, had been transported using Qatari airplanes. Africa is up for grabs.
And finally, there is the hugely threatening factor of China’s rise as an economic superpower on the global stage. However, China, which is also completely dependent on African resources for its continued economic growth, has an entirely different approach. Not interested in military expansion, they pursue economic and commercial expansion instead.
In contrast to the Euro/American Empire, China is willing to negotiate a fair deal within a win-win framework and is therefore becoming a preferred trading partner for many African states, especially those who want to free themselves from their dependence on economic relations with the unjust and hypocritical Empire. To disrupt the increasingly closer ties between China and Africa is a priority for the imperialists, and so an already crumbling Empire, threatened with its own extinction, is now in full military swing.
Malcolm X knew the enemy well: “(W)hen you and I begin to look at him and see the language he speaks, the language of a brute, the language of someone who has no sense of morality, who absolutely ignores law – when you and I learn how to speak his language, then we can communicate. But we will never communicate talking one language while he’s talking another language. He’s talking the language of violence.”
Fact is they will never stop warring for Africa’s resources until we Africans put an end to the fight ourselves. That is why imperialism can only be buried once and for all in Africa.
And until that day, / The African continent / Will not know peace, / We Africans will fight – we find it necessary – / And we know we shall win / As we are confident / In the victory / Of good over evil.
The title, opening and closing remarks in this essay come from a speech delivered to the United Nations General Assembly by Haile Selassie in 1963, later put to music by Robert Nesta Marley in the song entitled “War.”
Alkalimat, Abd-l, “Ideology of Black Social Science,” Black Scholar, Vol. 1, No. 2, December 1969, USA
Fanon, Frantz, “The Wretched of the Earth,” Grove Weidenfeld, NY, USA, 1968
Ikuenobe, Polycarp, “Philosophical Perspectives on Communalism and Morality in African Traditions,” Lexington Books, OX, UK, 2006
Ndu, Yahaya Ezemoo, “Africa’s Role in the Global World,” African Executive Magazine, Online Edition, February, 2011
Nobles, Wade, “Africanity and the Black Family,” Black Family Institute Publications CA, USA, 1985
Qaddafi, Muammar, “The Green Book,” Ithaca Press, UK, 2005 (first published 1975)
Shabazz, Malik (Malcolm X), “By Any Means Necessary,” Pathfinder, NY, USA, 1970
Gerald A. Perreira is a founding member of the Guyanese organizations Joint Initiative for Human Advancement and Dignity and Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG). He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fateh revolution and was an executive member of the World Mathaba based in Tripoli. He is the International Secretary for the newly formed, Afrocentric Pan-African International – ARM (African Revolutionary Movement). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story originally appeared on Libya 360°, where the discussion in the comments section adds significant information and analysis.