In his “Message to the Grassroots” speech, Malcolm X explained:
There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would.
In this speech Malcolm was perfectly describing the mentality of many of Africa’s leaders. African leaders not care about the well-being of their own citizens, but they care a great deal about their masters. As pictured above, Faure Gnassingbe was moved to tears over Jacques Chirac’s death. This is the same dictator who, for the last 14 years, has overseen the murder, torture, and suffering of many of his own citizens. In 2005, more than 500 Togolese were killed during the election that brought Faure into power. Faure did not shed a single tear for the hundreds of Togolese that he was responsible for killing, but he cries for Chirac because Chirac was his master. As Malcolm X explained, the house Negro loves the master more than the master loves himself.
African leaders were among the congregation of world leaders who marched in Paris in 2015 after a shooting in France which left 17 people dead. Worse atrocities happen in Africa everyday, but African leaders never march in solidarity over the victims of those atrocities. This is because African leaders do not identify with other Africans. In fact, it did not go unnoticed by some in the media that the African leaders who went to France to march in response to an attack against journalist have been responsible for attacking journalists in their own country.
Africans leaders in the so-called Francophone countries seem to stand out especially for their attachment to their French masters. Leon M’ba went so far as to proclaim: “All Gabonese have two fatherlands: France and Gabon.” Then there was the Senegalese Blaise Diagne, who proudly proclaimed: “I am a Frenchman first, and a Negro African second.” Diagne, who was the first African deputy elected to the French National Assembly, opposed Marcus Garvey’s movement because Garvey was preaching “Africa for the Africans.” This was unacceptable to Diagne, who was concerned that Garvey wanted to “kick the white man out.” Senegal eventually did become independent under Leopold Senghor, although Senegal remained so dependent on France that Trinidadian Prime Minister Eric Williams observed that Senegal was “tied hand and foot to France, and nobody attempts to conceal it.”
There was also Jean-Bedel Bokassa. Despite the fact that Bokassa’s father was killed by a French colonial officer, Bokassa spent his time in power trying his best to imitate his hero Napoleon, the French Emperor who so despised African people that he restored slavery in the Caribbean. Bokassa styled himself as the Emperor of the Central African Empire.
Bokassa’s antics were so embarrassing and his reign was so brutal, that France had to step in and remove him from power after having put him in power in the first place. As is typical of “house Negro” African rulers, Bokassa could inflict horrible tortures on his own people, but broke down in tears at the passing of Charles de Gaulle, the former French president and a man whom Bokassa called “papa.”
The house Negroes that Malcolm spoke of have been the same type of Africans who have been in power in Africa since independence. These are leaders who don’t care about their own people, but love their European masters more than those masters even love themselves. This is why Thomas Sankara said: “ The greatest difficulty we have faced is the neocolonial way of thinking that exists in this country. We were colonized by a country, France, that left us with certain habits. For us, being successful in life, being happy, meant trying to live as they do in France, like the richest of the French.”
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.