We And The North Africans: The Often Neglected Issues

by Ossie Ezeaku

Politically united Africa was once a cause championed by the late Pres. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. But then, that was in the sixties. I can bet he wouldn’t continue with such a project, If he were to be alive today. The situation at his time was that which gave no room for a second thought on the issue, an atmosphere influenced much by the excitement of colonial independence across the continent.

His visionary politics, no doubt, endeared him and his fellow Pan African leaders to the hearts of the North African icons–King Idris of Libya, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hassan II of Morocco.

Then the issue of race was confined to the back burner as Nkrumah was already married to an Arab Egyptian lady. Anwar Sadat, on the one hand, had part of his roots in the Nubian lineage. To the North West, King Hassan II of Morocco had tied the knots with a black Mauritanian, and who happened to be the mother of the present King of Morocco. There was no suspicion as to their intention of a united Africa. And which made many, especially in the south of the Sahara see them as leading by example.

But the acceptance of these leaders’ vision of a colour-blind Africa by the Maghreb population of North Africa was not known. And within the black Africa, some scholars’ misgivings about the North Africans were on a different direction. And one of those minds was the late Prof. Sheik Anta Diop of Senegal. He wasn’t against a united Africa per se, but Diop was one of the school thought who opined that the Negroid historical heritage in North Africa has to be recognised.

It began to unfold when Diop and another renowned African scholar, Theophilus Obenga, presented a compelling research finding at the UNESCO summit in Cairo, 1974. Their findings dwelt extensively on the metamorphosis of the Nile valley, and the black identity of the ancient civilization in Egypt. It was a research finding hailed by many around the world, and which to the amazement of everyone, was rejected by the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Interestingly, this was happening a few years after the wind of pan Africanism began to blow across the continent, and two years after the death of its champion, Pres. Kwame Nkrumah.

One other important development that black African leaders neglected at the time was the construction of the Aswan high dam in Egypt. A dam which flooded and permanently displaced the black African natives (Nubian) from their ancestral lands. Today, most priceless Negroid artifacts of Nubian origin are lying below the Aswan Dam. To the Arab government of Egypt, the catastrophe suited their policy of cleansing the remnants of the descendants of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

Perhaps It was the inaction on the part of black African leaders at the time of the construction of the dam, that gave the impetus to the systematic disfiguring and reshaping of most of the latter-day archaeological discoveries in Egypt. This is a cultural thievery that is on-going, and which has seen the Director of Egypt’s Supreme Council of antiquities, Zahi Hawas, honored time and again by the Caucasian establishment.

While the de-negroization of the ancient civilization in Egypt continued, no black African leader has talked about it, not to my knowledge. And that brought to question, the purpose of the OAU/AU. There have been series of literary objections, mostly by Afro-American scholars on the issue, but then, their protests have not gone beyond the pages of those new journals.

There is no gain saying the fact that North Africans dislike black Africans. It has historical connotations, but the truth is that they have seen a people at equal pedestal with them at independence become so poor, hungry and mocked around the globe. Thus, watching their collective socio-economic situation get better than ours, and with all the gory pictures coming out of the Sub Sahara, their disdain for black Africans has heightened.

So, the recent wide opposition by Nigerians to the idea of unity was just one side of the story. It is most certain that the majority of the North African population may not even approve of such a unity, which they would likely see as one based on poverty.

Therefore, when recently the CNN inside Africa crew went to chart with them on the streets of Cairo, their views were expected as all the respondents rejected the notion of being Africans in the first place.. It must be emphasized that this same view is shared by all North Africans from Cairo to Casablanca.

What can be called a fraudulent measure to annihilate blacks in North African history has been passed to generations.The Moroccans of today, will never accept that there are equally dark skinned Beri-Beri or Berbers, or that such a people, at any time in history, inhabited any part of North West Africa.

The homophobia which is enmeshed in history, economics and contemporary politics precipitated the genocide in the western Sudan. It is also behind the planned construction of a new dam to the 6th cataract south of khartoum, which many political observers thought was politically motivated, and targeted to over-run the homeland and the historical sites of the Sudanese Nubians.

I can say without fear that the unchallenged impunity of the Arabs has also boosted the morale of the minority Arabs in the Niger republic, who have long been involved in the enslavement of the black majority in that part of the world. It was in the same vein of this “final solution” that the Arab-Maghreb Union called on Mauritania to pull out of ECOWAS, a call which they have long heeded.

The latest champion of one-Africa, Muammar Qaddafi, is a guy who enjoys international limelight. He is used to playing weird political games any time he felt like have been forgotten. From the nuclear cat and mouse game with I.A.E.A to erecting camping tents on foreign trips, to sponsoring the OAU name change, travelling with hordes of elegantly dressed female soldiers and all his inept actions. So, his new call for one Africa is just one of those games. After he had serially mass-deported several black Africans, even the ones with resident permits.

Black Africa can still earn the respect of other regions of the world the moment the leaders began to have the welfare of

their citizens at heart. This is the difference between them and their North African counterparts, who may want to be life leaders, but have the tradition of providing the basic necessities of modern life for their people–power supply, equipped schools and hospitals, motor-able roads, decent environment and little provision for the handicapped and the unemployed.

If these amenities and services are in place, certain is that when the western cameras arrive, there would be less negative images around to shoot. Then our neighbours would be eager and proud to associate with us in any form. We’ve seen Australia made move to become part of Asia proper. This is what they would otherwise not have contemplated few decades ago. Progress knows no colour or creed. It attracts progressive partnerships from every cultural background..

Finally and before that unity, black Africans must horn their political skills to deal with their Northern neighbours. They must learn to discern the issue of religion from politics
because religious hubris and sentiments may impede their political power within a united Africa. Willing tools are abound within black Africans; those who will see the Arabs as the descendants of their Prophet, thereby, compromising Sub Saharan political goals.

It all means black Africa must first wake up; rebuild her economies, strengthen her regional economic organizations such as the ECOWAS, SADEC, ECCSA, COMESA et al. These bodies are yet to achieve their set objectives, and by the time they would have done so, the issue of a united Africa would be handled in a different way.

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KAZEEM January 5, 2008 - 10:00 pm

Oh,what a reputable topic,am also a victim of discrimination from arab from north african.my wife is morroccan but her family would not accept our togetherness due to religion and coloured reasons,but thank god my wife don"t respect there discrimination attitudes but respect them as parent,morever,at the moment her parent her powerless coz we don"t look back instead we"ve both achieved alot as family with kids and we let them do the talking.as they say action speak louder than voice.i think the problem is still our leaders,they need to respect our race and cherish us,and bring our economy back as it was before slavery,then other race will listen,respect,honour us.thanx

Owena July 24, 2007 - 5:33 am

Black Africa needs to deal with the issues within, before looking to heal rifts with others such as the Arabs who for the most part see all black men as slaves and black women as nothing but prostitutes.

In Naija alone, we have so many age old rifts between ethnic groups like for instance, the Itsekiris against the Ijaws, the Ijaws against the Urhobos, Igbos Vs Hausas Vs Yorubas, the Urhobos against the Itekiris and Christian Vs Muslim…the list goes on and it is a fruitless not to mention vicious circle. These people fight to kill and wound each other like dogs even though it would be hard for most to tell one from the other. They don’t see themselves as brothers and sisters and one would not hesitate to look you dead in the eye and spit out ‘Tufiakwa!” at the mere thought of brotherhood if only for the sake of peace.

And then here in the West where we should be more united as black people we find Nigerians against Jamaicans or African Americans and vice versa, Jamaicans against Bajans or anyone else in the Caribbean who doesn't happen to be Jamaican. It is highly ridiculous! To reiterate, Black Africa should look at trying to rectify the issues within first…only then will she be better equipped to seek unity with the Arabs and other peoples.

Mtangulizi July 23, 2007 - 8:39 pm

Black Afrika should unite first and run a course of discipline, scientific education, critical thinking, self-empowerment, etc to mobilize our economic and infrastructural development. Even if it is piece by piece, starting with an East Afrikan Federation here, a United States of West Afrika there. A United States of West Afrika (made of ECOWAS) would be about as big in size and population as the usa. But this unity absolutely must proceed from the ground up, from the grassroots, and be based on revolutionary politics, power and wealth for the masses. Kill all these worthless consumptive grossly corrupt presidents, prime ministers and elites! Discipline and fierce intolerance of corruption, deep and strong self-love as Afrikan peoples, etc. must accompany all this. We don't even need to talk about North Afrika. If the Arabs really want to destroy the legacy of Afrikans there, for now let them keep their deserts, while we build up and make equatorial Afrika a great united land, firstly among those people for whom it logically makes sense, the cultural and racial group of the black indigenous Afrikan. Race first. And when the vastest and most valuable part of the continent (where we live) is united, organized, properly mobilized, and recognized for its great power in the world, then, if we wish, we can overrun the north to lay claim to our legacy, or if the north wants to unite with us, we can decide whether or not we want them. It's all about black power. Everything is about power. It ain't about love and I have no love for my enemies. I love black Afrikans first. Wise peoples keep their wealth in the family…


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