June 2, 2023
From Hood Communist
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Historical evidence reveals that Africa had its renaissance centuries, if not millenniums, before Europe. Some of Africa’s past civilizations were in the Nile, Zimbabwe, Congo and Ghana. It was the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism which destroyed Africa and underdeveloped it. Slavery and colonialism were made possible by the so-called European Renaissance. Today these forces have their Pan-Europeanism through their European Union, making them a powerful economic bloc. They are integrating socially and politically and working for a borderless Europe. On the other hand, Africa is wallowing in the quagmire of underdevelopment, poverty, endless border wars, economic domination and the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This is because African leaders are dragging their feet on the implementation of Pan-Africanism and have made Africa a perpetual beggar of foreign ‘aid’. Some of these leaders have become agents of neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism, whose instrument is ‘globalization’. Globalization is just a new form of recolonizing the African continent.

Pan-Africanism was developed by outstanding African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in Africa and the diaspora. It was conceived in the womb of Africa. It is a product made in Africa by Africans. Pan-Africanism is the oldest vision in Africa. Pan-Africanism includes the intellectual, political and economic cooperation that should lead to the political unity of Africa. The Pan-African alternative provides a framework for African unity. It also fosters radical change in the colonial structures of the economy, and the implementation of an inward-looking strategy of production and development. It calls for the unification of financial markets, economic integration, a new strategy for initial capital accumulation and the design of a new political map for Africa. Pan-Africanism demands that the riches of Africa be used for the benefit, upliftment, development and enjoyment of the African people. Pan-Africanism is a system of equitably sharing food, clothing, homes, education, healthcare, wealth, land, work, security of life and happiness. Pan-Africanism is the privilege of the African people to love themselves and to give themselves and their way of life respect and preference. 

Dr. Motsoko Pheko, Former member of the South African Parliament1, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania

Often, the narrative of African states on the path to capitalist economic development is told from a perspective of Western dominance where incentives African states could receive are overemphasized. However, capitalist development in Africa has led to conditions of economic deterioration.2 Instead of considering the impetus of capitalist development and pro-West political and economic activities in Africa as the “consumerism development” that African leaders learned from Western nations, this article presumes that foreign influences are just as present as they were during previous centuries. It is widespread knowledge that any economic or political reforms to international economic systems enhanced the control of said system by Western powers.3 The aforementioned fact, combined with the facts that historically society has been stratified based on a social hierarchy of racialism – which was instituted by false-narratives and pseudoscience, and both were dominant factors in the decisions European leaders (first monarchs and clergy-members, and eventually politicians and businessmen and women) made regarding the economic exploitation of African states –  should not be underemphasized.4 In White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of U.S International Relations, author Robert Vitalis outlines how the underpinned racial subjugation operates as the driving force of the global political economy and in the field of international relations, making pro African assessments of post-World War I intra- and inter- state conflicts necessary:

“In the first decades of the twentieth century in the United States, international relations meant race relations…The problem of empire or imperialism, sometimes referred to as ‘race subjugation,’ was what preoccupied the first self-identified professors of international relations. They wrestled with the prospect that a race war might lead to the end of the world hegemony of whites, a future that appeared to many to be in the offing.”5   

This paper analyzes inter- and intra-state conflicts in Africa utilizing state responses to Pan African political leadership from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Patrice Lumumba; the Republic of Ghana – Kwame Nkrumah; the State of Libya – Muammar Gaddafi; and South Africa – Robert Sobukwe and Jafta Masemola, as case studies. The work considers conflicts throughout Africa as functional components to the international economic order and manufactured phenomena that produce marginal benefits to developed nations and elite classes of underdeveloped nations due the structure of the global political economy. Although the DRC, Ghana, Libya, and South Africa are the focus of this study, the Republic of Guinea (Diallo Telli); the Republic of Guinea-Bissua (Amilcar Cabral); Burkina Faso (Thomas Sankara); the Republic of Mozambique (Samora Machel); the United Republic of Tanzania (Mwalimu Julius Nyerere); and the Republic of Angola (Dr. Antonio Agostinho Neto) are further examples of Pan African political leaders that experienced conflict with African states and foreign states alike and deserve to be investigated as well.

The central premise and hypothesis of this paper is that intra- and inter-state conflicts within Africa are structured into the global political economy and can be considered functional characteristics due to colonial remnants and paternal policies which prevent African political leaders from advancing African nations beyond the imposed, foreign “progression” they currently experience. The article posits that institutions, businesses, state governments, and elite or middle-class members of developed and under-developed nations may be negatively or positively impacted by conflicts in African states, whereas local Africans and their respective state economies are typically negatively affected. This research topic was selected because historically the varying international (external) and national/domestic (internal) state responses to Pan African political leaders have disproportionately been condemnation. As a result, this study seeks to identify whether both contemporary African and non-African (foreign) states can respect the sovereignty of African nations, coexist, or cooperate with African leaders who do not want to be economically and politically dependent on Western institutions in the current international political economy. 

The primary research questions addressed  include a) identifying whether conflict in Africa is a function of the global political economy?; b) investigating the similarities and distinctions of state responses to Pan African political leaders; c) considering the number of proxy-wars in African states, what is the role of non-African states in conflicts throughout Africa?; and, d) how do the remnants of colonial systems such state formation, constitutions, laws, public policies, and governmental administration impact conflict in Africa?

The following work considers qualitative data sources of political and economic development in African states amid the post-independence era, as well as quantitative data regarding international development standards, economic policy metrics and global indicators for developed and underdeveloped nations. 

The literature reviewed in the article includes: “As Qaddafi Died, So Did His Craziest Dream and Mistake: Pan-Africanism,” “Contemporary Conflict Resolution,” “Conflict Trends in Africa, 1946-2004. A Macro-Comparative Perspective,” “Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook,” “Did Masemola Spend 26 or 28 years on Robben Island?” “How to Write About Africa,” “Jafta Masemola’s Master Key: Experimental Notes on Azanian Aesthetic Theory,” “Lumumba Speaks: The Speeches and Writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961,” “Robert Sobukwe: How Can Man Die Better?” “The Assassination of Lumumba,” “The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History,” “Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of South Africa,” and “White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of U.S International Relations.”

We first consider class analysis of conflict in Africa through a pro- and Pan-African perspective. The paper includes sections on global imperialism, colonialism and globalization, how the global economic and political apparatus (international state governments, multinational organizations and non-state actors) benefit from conflict in Africa, and state responses to Pan African political leaders. The article concludes with the author attempting to persuade the reader into a pro- and Pan-African perspective of the global political economy. 

In the last century many African states have experienced political decolonization and witnessed the spread of democracy.6 Considering the global political economy, African states fall within the purview of the Washington Consensus and Bretton Woods institutions, and abide by international laws and regulations regarding economic development. African states are heavily influenced by foreign institutions and nations, and even relegated to secondary status under the current international system.7 As a result, since World War II many African states have either pursued a pro-capitalist path towards economic development, or in a few instances, a non-capitalist or socialist path towards economic development. Despite either path toward development, African states (their respective governments, economies, and citizens) exist in a state of perpetual underdevelopment (poverty), especially in relation to developed nations.8 Furthermore, internationally members of the African diaspora suffer gross violations of human rights daily due to the remnants of the colonial era, slavery, and racialism.9 Despite attempts by international organizations to ameliorate the issues created by the exploitation of Africans, said subjugation is widespread and not limited to the continent, as diaspora Africans experience discrimination in developed nations such as the United States, Britain, France, and many others. 

The conditions that led to the perception of Africans as derogatory are present in modern capitalist countries, and indicative of the monolithic misperception of all Africans as impoverished savages.10 Therefore, examinations of African state reactions to the global political economy and newly instituted economic order created in the post-1948 (WWII) society are critical. With the conclusion of the Second Great War and the development of nations such as Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and others, and the United States’ increasing role as a global superpower, African states became the focus of an “extraction based” global economy based on commerce, that sought to convert Africa’s many resources into financial capital that would in turn be used to develop the “developed” nations.11 As a result, many African leaders found themselves in compromising positions where they had to participate in the global system of capitalism and accept foreign oversight or administration of economic and political affairs. Furthermore, the economic systems that were instituted by the colonial nations were maintained under the new global economic order, albeit under a different structure.12 In other words, Africa was nominally “liberated” under the guise of political freedom as African leaders showcased their power and privilege internally among Africans, but were exploited, subjugated, and manipulated economically and socially by foreign powers and overseers of the global political economy.13

State Behavior and the Functionalism of Conflict in Africa

In order to identify whether conflict in Africa is a function of the global political economy, this article examines state behavior and responses to Pan African political leaders, who each wanted to economically and/or politically change the fundamental relationship between African nations and Western nations. This proposed change in and of itself is a principal conflict within Africa, or among the continent of Africa and the global political economy. An economy that relies in Africa for exports, minerals, resources, human capital, labor, etc., while simultaneously reproducing new social mechanisms to convince the inhabitants of the underdeveloped (third-world) nations that they are inferior to the inhabitants of the developed (first-world) nations that are superior. 

How do the remnants of colonial systems such state formation, constitutions, laws, public policies, and governmental administration impact conflict in Africa? Considering the international military industrial complex, which profits off of wars around the world via the sale of weapons, military technology, fighter jets, ships, etc. and the fact that despite the independence era, many African states continue to abide by state policies, structures, governance mechanisms and state formation frameworks that were developed, instituted and implemented by former colonial states, African nations engaged in conflict can be viewed as a natural characteristic or regular phenomenon.14 Whereas the modern state system in Sub-Saharan Africa is relatively new, most states gained their independence after 1960.15 Only Ethiopia, Liberia, and South Africa were recognized as independent states prior to 1950.16 After four or more decades of independent public policy, the industrial and service sectors of most African countries remain severely underdeveloped.17 

The conclusion of the Cold War period caused changes in the predominant forms of governance in Africa. The number of autocracies in Africa fell declined through the 1990s, reaching five in 2000.18  The number of democratic regimes increased from three to eleven between 1989-1994; and in 2004 there were thirteen democracies in Africa.19 Many African countries have experienced improvement in the qualities of governance since 1990. Yet, many of the new democratic regimes have weakened and some, such as Congo (Brazzaville), Guinea-Bissau, and Ivory Coast, have failed or were caused to fail depending on one’s perspective.20 In the 1990s, two countries increased autocracy: The Gambia and Zimbabwe.21 

Since 1946, African states that made significant moves toward democracy typically experienced an absence of, minor or localized, armed conflict.22 Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, and Senegal each established democratic regimes in relatively peaceful societies.23 Decisions to install democracy occasionally ignited armed conflicts within peaceful societies. Sponsored regime transitions in Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Niger, and Sierra Leone have been featured serious armed violence, even though goods from these states remained on the world market.24 Burkina Faso, Djibouti, and Tanzania have begun to liberalize their regimes at a more measured pace; others, such as Cameroon, Gabon, and Guinea have only modestly eased restrictions on political activity.25 Nigeria and Mozambique were the only African states that instituted major democratic changes following protracted experiences with civil or communal warfare. Generally, states that have past, recent, or ongoing experiences with social wars have remained autocratic, are struggling to design or establish a power-sharing government to end civil wars and reduce fragmentation (political) factionalism, or in some cases, have collapsed.26

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the first case in our study of state responses to Pan African political leadership and an extremely worthy test case considering its historical ramifications. The conflicting nature of the global political economy is revealed by the United Nations’ “intervention” in the Katanga Crisis and the assassination of the DRC’s first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, which is internationally known as the first “peace keeping” mission.27 The overthrow of the Congo’s first government, the removal of Lumumba, the deadly repression of the popular resistance to the neo-colonial governments of Joseph Kasa Vubu, Joseph-Desire Mobutu and Moise Tshombe, and the creation of the Second Republic in this massive strategic country, all had repercussions which led to catastrophic consequences throughout Africa.28

Congolese independence was principally an expression of the anti-colonial revolution and agency of the oppressed which pitted the colonialist global North against the colonized global South.29 Since WWII, millions of people had removed colonial regimes via strikes, civil disobedience movements, and wars including: India (1947), China (1949), Vietnam (1954), Algeria (1954-62), Indochina (1957), and Cuba (1959).30 Whereas the United Nations declared 1960 the “Year of Africa”, and about 16 states on the Black continent gained their independence, the largest and potentially richest newly independent state was the Congo.31 To counter the obstacle that (African) independence created, the West sought to change its policy of explicit control for one of secondary and indirect control, and new national leaders had to learn to respect the neo-colonial order.32 

Lumumba was ‘problematic’ to the West, because he advocated for a complete decolonization that would benefit the Congolese, and subsequently entire African, population.33 Lumumba, therefore, had to be stopped. Lumumba was not a communist, but a nationalist, and prepared to accept help from any state provided that it was unconditional help which did not compromise Congolese sovereignty.34 

In order to sway public opinion in their favor, Western strategists utilized political subterfuge and propaganda.35 Similar to the way Belgian monarch Leopold II rationalized and legitimized the imperial conquest of the Congo by presenting it as a civilizing initiative that liberated Africans from the Arab slave trade, in 1960 the West promoted that nationalists were destroyed in the name of protecting Africa from Soviet imperialism.36 Western nations used code phrases via dog whistle politics such as “saving Africa from the Cold War,” or “containing Soviet influence in the process of decolonization”.37 

Ludo De Witte, Belgian author of “Crisis in Kongo” (Crisis in the Congo) and “The Assassination of Lumumba” mentioned the following about the state and international response to Lumumba:

 “If Africa was the revolver and the Congo its trigger, in the words of Fanon, the assassination of Lumumba and tens of thousands of other Congolese nationalists, from 1960-65, was the West’s ultimate attempt to destroy the continent’s authentic independent development

…the violation of the Congolese democracy is expressed in Lumumba’s imprisonment; UN complicity is demonstrated by the help given to Mobutu’s soldiers in capturing Lumumba; the Belgian attack on Congolese sovereignty is proved by the Barracuda plot and the actions of white officers in Katanga…The imminence of this process of radicalization explained why the Congolese leader was seen as a mortal enemy of the Belgian establishment, Wall Street and the City of London.”38 

De Witte details how key international players engineered intervention in the Congo from the onset including: the Eyskens government, U.S. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and senior UN officials, led by Dag Hammarskjold.39 Based on the author’s accounts of Belgian Foreign Ministry archives and “Enquete sur la mort de Patrice Lumumba” (Inquiry into the Death of Patrice Lumumba), an unpublished doctoral dissertation that Jacques Brassinne defended at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 1991, the Pan African nature of Lumumba’s political and economic policies threatened major developed nations including Belgium, the United States, Britain, and France.40 De Witte notes that Brassinne’s work was compromised due to his unobjective position and support of Belgian activity, and his own collaboration with the Katanga regime, which he knows is responsible for Lumumba’s assassination.41 De Witte ultimately declares that UN leaders supported the war the Western powers were pursuing against Lumumba’s government, and at certain times, the UN was the willing tool of Western interference42

In the decades since Lumumba’s assassination, the DRC has maintained its role as an international, underemphasized yet integral key state within the global political economy that directly or indirectly contributes to foreign GDP and surplus via precious minerals, resources, and human labor. Unfortunately, unlike Lumumba’s brief tenure as a state leader, the DRC’s political leaders have not upheld any Pan African imperatives or policies, and Congolese citizens continue to experience economic, social, and political exploitation as national and international leaders uphold the political and economic status quo policies of the global political economy. 

The Republic of Ghana is the second case in our study of a state responses to Pan African political leaders. Ghana’s first Prime Minister, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, is internationally revered as a leader and pioneer within the pan African movement, however his tenure as state leader in Ghana unfortunately ended in a coup d’état in 1966.43  Among the greatest political figures of the 20th century, champion of world peace, and spokesman of the Non-Aligned Movement, it is ironic and an indication of the component based functioning of conflict in Africa that Nkrumah’s government was overthrown in a violent CIA-masterminded coup while he was on his way to Hanoi to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the U.S. war in Vietnam.44

The state response was carried out jointly on February 24, 1966 by the Ghana Police Service and Ghana Armed Forces, as Colonel E.K. Kotoka, Major A. A. Afrifa, Lieutenant General J. A. Ankrah, and Police Inspector General J.W.K. Harlley “led” the coup, however the British (PM Harold Wilson) and U.S. (Lyndon B. Johnson) governments are believed to have approved the coup because of Nkrumah’s “pro-communist” foreign policy.45  Dr. Charles Quist-Adade mentioned that “the fate of Africa was irrevocably altered when the CIA sponsored a coup d’état against Nkrumah, a Pan-Africanist visionary who was voted as ‘Africa’s Man of the Millennium’in an article published by Covert Action Magazine in 2021.46 Ironically, Nkrumah stated this himself in 1968 in Dark Days in Ghana writing: 

“It has been one of the tasks of the CIA and other similar organizations to discover…potential quislings and traitors in our midst, and to encourage them, by bribery and the promise of political power, to destroy the constitutional government of their countries”47 

Nkrumah’s critics, opponents, and detractors espoused that he was trying to excuse his dictatorship and mismanagement of the administration. However, Quist-Adade notes that “the U.S. embassy had long played up Nkrumah’s alleged economic mismanagement and poor human rights record, although it tolerated a higher number of political prisoners among the military junta which succeeded him and worse economic outcomes”.48 

In either case, upwards of 1,600 Ghanaian citizens died in the coup and many more sustained injuries.49 After the coup investors flocked into the country, including William H. Beatty, Vice President of Chase Manhattan Bank, who spoke of new favorable investment conditions as a result of the remarkable strides made since the coup.50 Post-Nkrumah’s removal, the National Liberation Council (NLC) led the Ghanaian government from February 1966 until October 1969, and ultimately implemented structural adjustment policies that were recommended by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which Nkrumah opposed as signs of neocolonialism.51 The NLC was advised by Harvard economist Gustav Papanek, who just prior served time in Indonesia, and recommended the privatization of state-owned businesses and reorientation toward the West, which enabled the reestablishment of foreign governance over Ghana’s economy.52 

Prior to the coup, Nkrumah deliberately made Ghana the center of the African revolution and Ghana’s independence catalyzed continental rebellion against European imperialism. Within a decade after Ghana’s independence in 1957, more than 90 percent of African states had achieved independence.53 Nkrumah’s independence-day pronouncement that the independence of Ghana was useless without with the complete liberation of the entire African continent, led to Ghana training African liberation fighters, financing their movements, and encouraging them to remove colonial rule from their states.54 Nkrumah argued that only a federal state of Africa with a common market and currency, united army (an African High Command), and a common foreign policy could provide the foundation for immense reconstruction, modernization of the continent, and optimize Africa’s efforts to effectively quell internal conflicts, diminish foreign interference, and limit predatory and imperialistic wars.55 

The third case in our study of state responses to Pan African political leaders is the State of Libya, which experienced the assassination of Muammar Muhammad Gaddafi on October 20, 2011. As the 11th year commemoration of Gaddafi’s legacy approaches, he is widely recognized in Africa and around the world as a forgone Pan African who wanted to economically and politically liberate African nations from paternalistic relationships with Western states.56 Like Nkrumah, Gaddafi also envisioned a united African continent, and many scholars, observers and members of the international community now accept what was once claimed as conspiracy:  Gaddafi was assassinated by Western (U.S. and NATO) forces because his Pan African state aspirations would ultimately diminish African dependency on the international Western economic and political apparatus.57 

During his lifetime the Libyan leader often outlined his plan to create a united Africa with its own currency, military forces to defend the continent, and an African passport.58 Whereas 2021 marked the first year of the African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) after its enactment in 201859 – which took place seven years after his murder – Gaddafi had long “conceived and financed a plan to unite the sovereign States of Africa (United States of Africa), and in 2004, a pan-African Parliament of  53 AU nations arranged plans for the African Economic Community, which would utilize a single gold currency by 2023.60 

Although it was revealed that Hillary Clinton would infamously claim that:

According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:

  1. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
  2. Increase French influence in North Africa,
  3. Improve his internal political situation in France,
  4. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
  5. Address the concern of his advisors over Gaddafi’s long-term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.”61

Gaddafi had African support and opposition, was viewed as a threat to other African regimes, and the AU infamously did not assist the Libyan leader when Western forces attacked him in Sirte, Libya.62 Members of the international community, including Iqbal Jassat, an executive member of the Johannesburg-based think tank Media Review Networks, uphold that “some African countries are responsible, and let down Libya by voting with the UN Security Council in their resolution to bomb the State of Libya.”63 

Author, attorney, public banking reform advocate, and founder of the Public Banking Institute, Ellen Brown writes:

“It was thanks to the 2016 publication of Hillary Clinton’s emails that the reason behind NATO’s entry into Libya was revealed. It was to prevent the creation of an independent hard currency in Africa that would free the continent from its economic bondage under the dollar, the IMF and the French African franc. That hard currency would have allowed Africa to shake off the last heavy chains of colonial exploitation.”64

 Prior to 2011, Libya had achieved economic independence, managed its own water, food, oil, money, and its own state-owned bank65. Under Gaddafi, Libya had arisen from one of the poorest to the richest countries in Africa. And despite the significant issues in Libya prior to the coup, international lawyer Francis Boyle, maintains that “Libyans had an incredibly high standard of living, the highest in Africa,”66.  Boyle declared: “when I first went to Libya in 1986, I was amazed by the empowerment of women. What I saw in Libya was that women could do anything they wanted to do.”67 Furthermore, the State of Libya’s education and medical treatment were free; housing was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in a system of local democracy.68 The country also had the world’s largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Gaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.69

The state response to Gaddafi’s geo-political, and overtly Pan African international aspirations resulted in conflict in Africa that was caused by non-African states but endorsed or enabled by other African states, which reveals a complex and nuanced perspective of conflict in Africa. Nevertheless, the functionalism revealed in the relationship between the global political economy and conflict in African states remains apparent. 

The final case of state responses to Pan African political leaders is the Republic of South Africa (RSA), which has a deep history of social and political movements and a long list of freedom fighters who died for African liberation and their cultural, political, or social rights.70 Whereas many instances of political repression to Pan African activity have taken place in the RSA and many women, children, and men could be mentioned, a few prominent cases including the torture of Steve Biko, et al., hanging of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, et al., and the assassination of Chris Hani et al. bear notable mentioning. This study will focus on the founding leadership of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), which was founded in 1959 by Robert Sobukwe, Jafta Masemola, et al., and the state response to their political activity which included attempts to improve social, economic, and political conditions for marginalized Black South Africans. 

 This case is distinct from the previous three because the examples of Pan African leadership are not heads-of-state or members of government, but citizens who organized and led political movements or parties that did not lead the RSA. Due to its complex history, the RSA’s last five presidents were Black Africans (Cyril Ramaphosa, Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe, Thabo Mbeki, and Nelson Mandela) who were members of the African National Congress (ANC), a party that was historically progressive but less radical or focused on the (pan) Africanist political perspective as opposed to a multiracial perspective of South Africa.71 Azanian scholar, activist, and analyst Liepollo Lebohang Pheko, writes: 

“Sobukwe, Anton Lembede and AP Mda were among the leading lights who galvanised the Defiance Campaign and strongly opposed the policy of multiracialism, which they deemed to be a dangerous mechanism to privilege minority rights. Sobukwe was dissatisfied with the growing influence of the white-led Communist Party of South Africa and, by 1956, became part of the Africanist group. 

He diagnosed the colonial question by saying: ‘The Europeans are a foreign group which has exclusive control of political, economic, social and military power. It is the dominant group. It is the exploiting group, responsible for the pernicious doctrine of white supremacy, which has resulted in the political humiliation and degradation of the indigenous African people.’

In 1959, the Africanists, led by Sobukwe and including the likes of Mda and AB Ngcobo, left to form the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other leading youth league members remained in what Sobukwe considered to be a captured ANC.”72

In December 1959, a week after the ANC announced its anti-pass campaign, the PAC also announced that it was planning to initiate a campaign against the pass laws with the aim to free South Africa by 1963.73 On March 16, 1960, Sobukwe wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Major General Rademeyer, informing him that starting March 21, the PAC would hold a five-day, non-violent, disciplined, and sustained protest campaign against pass laws.74 On March 21, 1960, at the launch of the PAC’s anti-pass campaign, Sobukwe resigned as lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand, with the intentions of turning himself in for arrest at the Orlando Police Station.75 Sobukwe hoped his actions would inspire other Black South Africans. During the eight kilometer walk to the police station, small groups of men joined him from neighboring areas like Phefeni, Dube and Orlando West.76 When the crowd approached the station, most of the marchers, including Sobukwe, were arrested and charged with sedition.77 After an estimated 5000 marchers reached the Sharpeville police station, the police opened fire and killed 69 people and injured 180 others in what is now known as the Sharpeville Massacre.78

Sobukwe was issued a banishment order on March 25, 1960 to the Driefontein Native Trust Farm, Vryburg District, which is now North West Province.79 The documentation stated that Sobukwe had been both arrested and was awaiting trial“ but it [was] necessary to have a banishment order in hand just in case he was released.”80 On May 4, 1960, Sobukwe was sentenced to three years imprisonment for inciting Africans to demand the repeal of the pass laws.81 At the end of his three-year prison term on May 3, 1963, the South African Parliament enacted the General Law Amendment Act, dubbed the ‘Sobukwe Clause’, which empowered the Minister of Justice to extend the detention of any political prisoner indefinitely.82 Sobukwe was then moved to Robben Island for a six-year sentence.83 The Clause was not used to detain anyone else and the Apartheid government renewed it annually when it was due to expire on June 30, 1965.84 

While on Robben Island, Sobukwe was kept in solitary confinement and his quarters was separate from the main prison.85 In May 1969, Sobukwe was transported from Robben Island because the government did not want his death there to propel him to prominence and martyrdom, and was again banished, this time to Galeshewe in Kimberley. Although his family joined him, he remained under twelve-hour house arrest, his correspondence and communication continued to be monitored, and his banning order prohibited him from participating in any political activity.86

Known as the Tiger of Azania, Jafta “Jeff” Kgalabi Masemola was Robben Island’s longest or second longest serving prisoner who was detained for 26 or 28 years after he was abducted leading the armed wing of the PAC.87 When the PAC was banned in 1960, Masemola and others were sent to Lesotho to coordinate the PAC’s underground guerrilla unit, Poqo, the predecessor of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA).88 Masemola was seized in Lesotho by apartheid forces and sentenced to life on Robben Island along with most of the members of his unit.89 Masemola was in solitary confinement for much of his time on Robben Island, and valiantly rejected President PW Botha’s offer of release on condition that he abandon the armed struggle.90 Masemola refused to negotiate unless it led to the return of land to dispossessed Africans and the establishment of a free and just society in RSA.91

Masemola was released in October 1989 to a homecoming reception filled to capacity in Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium.92 The police intervened and ordered the people to disperse before the celebration ended.93 Following his release, Masemola joined politics, using a church where he lived to address masses of people who came to his evening meetings.94 The church belonged to Rev. Brander, father of Simon Brander who died on Robben Island convicted as a PAC-Poqo activist. Masemola travelled the country reviving PAC structures and intervened in conflicts between members of the PAC and the United Democratic Front (UDF). 95 

Unfortunately, on April 17, 1990, Masemola was killed in a car crash in what the PAC considers suspicious circumstances.96 The truck that was involved in the crash with Masemola’s car fled the scene and was never found, and to date no investigation has been launched.97 

After considering the instances of state responses to Pan African political leadership in the states of DRC, Ghana, Libya, and South Africa mentioned above, a few similarities and distinctions emerge. While each political leader(s) had varying methods and ideals they aspired to manifest in order to revitalize economic development and maintain political control of their respective state, the responses to such desires were coup d’état, torture, imprisonment, assassination, and exile. Considering the domestic and foreign state responses to Pan African political leaders, one must logically consider if the modern global political economy can or will allow such leaders to coexist. Can international states work with African leaders who want to prioritize African political sovereignty and economic independence, and change the nature of their relationship with Western superpowers? The existence of the Global South and former Non-Alignment movement members proves that alternative international paradigms, or theories of state engagement can be instituted. 

Lumumba was a Pan African nationalist who sought to have Congolese and African sovereignty respected; Nkrumah was also a Pan African nationalist, and sought to modernize of the continent, diminish foreign interference, and to have a united States of Africa; Gaddafi, another Pan African nationalist, sought to implement an Africa-based currency, military, and united governance structure; and Sobukwe, Masemola et al.  were Africanists who sought to have Black African political perspectives prioritized as opposed to a multiracial African perspective that marginalized the rights and existence of the former. 

In each instance above, some form of external or foreign interference took place and the coups or internal African actors were usually backed by global superpowers. In the DRC it was Belgium, the U.S., UK, UN, and France to some extent; in Ghana it was the U.S. and UK; in Libya it was the U.S. and NATO; and in South Africa the apartheid government had multiple supporters such as the U.S. UK, and the Netherlands. Each instance also included some form of propaganda campaigns or miseducation campaign to discredit African political leaders. This ultimately resulted in massive miseducation in order to maintain the international economic order and prevent social upheaval about the indiscriminate (or possibly) racist and classist nature of the global economy that considers humanity of Western states but not African states. 

The fact that the international community is usually persuaded to be convinced that African leaders are attempting political wrongdoing by seeking to be less dependent on Western economic and political international infrastructure is alarming. Whereas foreign states have the ability to utilize African states for proxy-wars, African states being prevented or discouraged from seeking to develop political and economic structures that are self-sufficient and sustainable is deplorable. Unless the nature of conflict in Africa serves a function to the global economy, and the dual reality of developed nations, businesses, governments and affluent citizens benefiting from conflict in Africa, and Africans suffering the negative consequences is intentionally structural and functional. Does the global economy and international community receive any marginal benefits from the conflicts that occur in the global South, particularly in Africa? Can African states and the international political landscape accept more pro and Pan African governance and leaders? More inquiry is surely needed from all perspectives interested in the topic.

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1.  Pheko M., 1999. Road to Pan-Africanism. Johannesburg: The Sowetan

2.  Mazrui, A. and Wondji, C., 1993. General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

3.  Mazrui, A. and Wondji, C., 1993. General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

4.  Ibid.

5.  Vitalis, R. 2015. White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations. 1st ed., Cornell University Press

6.  Mazrui, A. and Wondji, C., 1993. General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

7.  Ibid.

8.  Ibid.

9.  Ibid.

10.  Mazrui, A. and Wondji, C., 1993. General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

11.  Vitalis, R. 2015. White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations. 1st ed., Cornell University Press

12.  Mazrui, A. and Wondji, C., 1993. General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

13.  Ibid.

14.  Department for International Development. 2006. “Conflict Trends in Africa, 1946-2004. A Macro-Comparative Perspective,” U.K. Ministry of Defense

15.  Ibid.

16.  Department for International Development. 2006. “Conflict Trends in Africa, 1946-2004. A Macro-Comparative Perspective,” U.K. Ministry of Defense

17.  Ibid.

18.  Ibid.

19.  Ibid. 

20.  Mazrui, A. and Wondji, C., 1993. General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.

21.   Ibid.

22.  Department for International Development. 2006. “Conflict Trends in Africa, 1946-2004. A Macro-Comparative Perspective,” U.K. Ministry of Defense

23.  Ibid.

24.  Department for International Development. 2021. The Causes of Conflict in Africa. United Kingdom Ministry of Defence 

25.  Ibid.

26.  Ibid.

27.  Nzongola-Ntalaja, G. (2002). The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A people’s history. London: Zed Books.

28.  Ibid.

29.  Ibid.

30.  Witte, L.., Wright, A., & Fenby, R. (2002). The Assassination of Lumumba. London; Lumumba, P., Lierde, J..,

31.  Ibid.

32.  Nzongola-Ntalaja, G. (2002). The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A people’s history. London: Zed Books.

33.  Witte, L.., Wright, A., & Fenby, R. (2002). The Assassination of Lumumba. London; Lumumba, P., Lierde, J.., Lane, R. H., & Jean-Paul, S. (1972). Lumumba speaks: The speeches and writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961.

34.  Witte, L.., Wright, A., & Fenby, R. (2002). The Assassination of Lumumba. London; Lumumba, P., Lierde, J..,

35.  Ibid.

36.  Ibid. 

37.  Witte, L.., Wright, A., & Fenby, R. (2002). The Assassination of Lumumba. London

38.  Ibid. 

39.  Ibid.

40.  Ibid.

41.  Ibid. 

42.  Witte, L.., Wright, A., & Fenby, R. (2002). The Assassination of Lumumba. London; Lumumba, P., Lierde, J.., Lane, R. H., & Jean-Paul, S. (1972). Lumumba speaks: The speeches and writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961.

43.  Luttwak, E. (1969). Coup d’etat: a Practical Handbook. Greenwich, Conn: Fawcett Publications; Detainee Describes Experience in Prison,”  American embassy document, June 23, 1966; “Seventy More Persons Released from Protective Custody,” December 8, 1966;  RG 59, U.S. State Department, Africa Bureau, NA, box 2237; Prah, The Social Background of Coups d’état (Brazil, Indonesia, Ghana) (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 1973).

44.  Quist-Adale. 2021. How Did a Fateful CIA Coup—Executed 55 Years Ago this February 24—Doom Much of Sub-Saharan Africa? Covert Action Magazine.

45.  Ibid.

46.  Quist-Adale. 2021. How Did a Fateful CIA Coup—Executed 55 Years Ago this February 24—Doom Much of Sub-Saharan Africa? Covert Action Magazine.

47.  Nkrumah, K. (1968). Dark days in Ghana. International Publishers. New York City

48.  Ibid. 

49.  Quist-Adale. 2021. How Did a Fateful CIA Coup—Executed 55 Years Ago this February 24—Doom Much of Sub-Saharan Africa? Covert Action Magazine. 

50.  “Detainee Describes Experience in Prison,”  American embassy document, June 23, 1966; “Seventy More Persons Released from Protective Custody,” December 8, 1966;  RG 59, U.S. State Department, Africa Bureau, NA, box 2237; Prah, The Social Background of Coups d’état (Brazil, Indonesia, Ghana) (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 1973). 

51.  Quist-Adale. 2021. How Did a Fateful CIA Coup—Executed 55 Years Ago this February 24—Doom Much of Sub-Saharan Africa? Covert Action Magazine.

52.  Ibid.

53.  Quist-Adale. 2021. How Did a Fateful CIA Coup—Executed 55 Years Ago this February 24—Doom Much of Sub-Saharan Africa? Covert Action Magazine.

54.  Ibid. 

55.  Nkrumah, K. (1968). Dark days in Ghana. International Publishers. New York City

56.  Isilow, H. 2021. African intellectuals remember late Muammar Gaddafi as pan-African. Anadolu Agency

57.  Brown, E. 2021. Why They Killed Gaddafi. The Institute of Art and Ideas; Brown, E. 2016. Why Qaddafi had to go: African gold, oil and the challenge to monetary imperialism. TheEcologist.org

58.  Ibid.

59.  Bernish, C. 2017. “9 Years Ago, Today, the U.S. Helped Murder Gaddafi to Stop the Creation of Gold-backed Currency”. The Free Thought Project

60.  Isilow, H. 2021. African intellectuals remember late Muammar Gaddafi as pan-African. Anadolu Agency

61.  Brown, E. 2021. Why They Killed Gaddafi. The Institute of Art and Ideas; Brown, E. 2016. Why Qaddafi had to go: African gold, oil and the challenge to monetary imperialism. TheEcologist.org

62.  Isilow, H. 2021. African intellectuals remember late Muammar Gaddafi as pan-African. Anadolu Agency

63.  Ibid.

64.  Brown, E. 2021. Why They Killed Gaddafi. The Institute of Art and Ideas

65.  Brown, E. 2021. Why They Killed Gaddafi. The Institute of Art and Ideas; Brown, E. 2016. Why Qaddafi had to go: African gold, oil and the challenge to monetary imperialism. TheEcologist.org

66.  Bernish, C. 2017. “9 Years Ago, Today, the U.S. Helped Murder Gaddafi to Stop the Creation of Gold-backed Currency”. The Free Thought Project 

67.  Ibid.

68.  Ibid.  

69.  Isilow, H. 2021. African intellectuals remember late Muammar Gaddafi as pan-African. Anadolu Agency

70.  Thompson, L. 2001. A History of South Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press.

71.  Pheko, L.L. 2016. Sobukwe: A Giant Whose Voice Endures. Mail & Guardian.

72.  Pheko, L.L. 2016. Sobukwe: A Giant Whose Voice Endures. Mail & Guardian. 

73.  Pogrund, B. (2006). How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

74.  Pogrund, B. (2006). How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

75.  Ibid.

76.  Ibid.

77.  Ibid.

78.  Ibid.

79.  Ibid.

80.  Pogrund, B. (2006). How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

81.  Ibid.

82.  Ibid.

83.  Pogrund, B. (2006). How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

84.  Ibid.

85.  Pogrund, B. (2006). How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

86.  Pogrund, B. (2006). How can man die better: The life of Robert Sobukwe. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

87.  Joja, A. M. (September 01, 2021). Jafta Masemola’s Master Key: Experimental Notes on Azanian Aesthetic Theory. Theoria, 68, 168, 160-195; Sibeko, M. 2010. “Did Masemola Spend 26 or 28 years on Robben Island?” Email Correspondence. The Mail Archive

88.  Ibid.

89.  Sibeko, M. 2010. “Did Masemola Spend 26 or 28 years on Robben Island?” Email Correspondence. The Mail Archive

90.  Ibid.

91.  Ibid.

92.  Ibid. 

93.  Ibid.

94.  Joja, A. M. (September 01, 2021). Jafta Masemola’s Master Key: Experimental Notes on Azanian Aesthetic Theory. Theoria, 68, 168, 160-195.

95.  Sibeko, M. 2010. “Did Masemola Spend 26 or 28 years on Robben Island?” Email Correspondence. The Mail Archive

96.  Ibid. 

97. Ibid. 


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