Dr. Williams “Sandy” Darity posed this question on Twitter. As I have explained in a previous article, anyone who is looking to African governments to find Pan-Africanism will be disappointed. Most of these African governments do not even stand up for their own citizens, let alone the diaspora. The reason for this is the hostility surrounding Pan-Africanism on the part of the ruling class in Africa. Anyone who understands this reality will understand that Black Americans would be wasting their time looking to African governments to support any claims for reparations.
Dr. Darity uses Israel as a reference, but there are several differences between Zionism and Pan-Africanism that need to be elaborated on. Israel is a settler state which was created with the support of Western nations, especially Britain. Palestine was a British colony and part of Britain’s colonial policy in Palestine was to establish a Jewish settlement. Not only did Britain encourage Jewish settlement in Palestine, but Britain provided financial support and protection for Jewish settlers as well. Theodor Herzl, a man who is considered the father of Zionism, considered establishing the Jewish homeland in another British colony; Uganda. From the very beginning Zionism benefitted from British imperialism. Herzl apparently cared very little about the abuses that were being inflicted on Africans in East Africa. He was more concerned with the fact that he could utilize British imperialism in Africa to advance his Zionist vision for Jewish people.
Whereas Israel was benefitting from colonialism, African nations were being underdeveloped by those same colonial powers. The colonial powers also actively opposed the emergence of Pan-Africanism in Africa. Pan-African leaders were routinely harassed and imprisoned by the colonial powers because such leaders were a threat to the colonial system. This continued even after colonialism in Africa ended, which is why leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, and Thomas Sankara were eliminated.
Israel too has played a role in dismantling African independence. Idi Amin, the infamous Ugandan dictator, was brought to power as part of an Israeli supported coup against Milton Obote. Israel also supported the apartheid regime in South Africa. A more recent example of how Israel’s policies in Africa have had an adverse impact is Israel’s support for the government of Faure Gnassingbé, a dictator who has been in power in Togo since 2005. Israel’s support for Togo has included assisting the Togolese government with spying on its own citizens.
A recent story about Yahya Jammeh, the former president of the Gambia, revealed that he executed a number of African migrants in 2005. Nine of the victims were Nigerian. Not only was Jammeh cruel towards his own Gambian people, but he was also extremely cruel to other African citizens as well. It would be completely unreasonable to expect a leader like Jammeh to support the struggle of Black Americans when Jammeh didn’t even have love for his own citizens and for the citizens of fellow ECOWAS member states. As is typically the case, Jammeh was supported by the United States.
Western governments have developed an international system which maintains the oppression of African people. This is why Pan-Africanism is important as a political philosophy because it is impossible to escape the global nature of the struggles that African people endure. These issues are all interconnected. The same American government which supports Israel, continues to engage in policies which hinder Africans at home and abroad. The neo-colonial reality of present day African nations is one which will have to be confronted and solved before we can expect to see African nations collectively supporting agendas to benefit Black Americans.
Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.