Speech to The Second African Summit Conference (August 21, 1964)

Speech to The Second African Summit Conference (August 21, 1964)

Every effort by the American press to play down the importance and the success of the Second African Summit Conference held recently here in the ancient African city of Cairo could well be a drastic mistake for the Western powers, and especially for America

The entire continent of Africa and her awakening people is the richest prize yet in the key struggle for the “balance of power” currently waged between East and West. Not only her unlimited supplies of untapped mineral resources, but also her strategic geographic position makes her extremely vital in the present world struggle.

Why does the press of the Western powers constantly ridicule and play down the idea of a United States of Africa? They know that a divided Africa is a weak Africa, and they want to keep her a dependent target of Western “philanthropy,” or what is being increasingly described here as “benevolent” colonialism. The neocolonialists who would “woo and rule” Africa today must skillfully disguise their selfish aims within their generous offers of unlimited “economic aid, Peace Corpism or crossroadism,” all of which is nothing but the modem counterpart of the nineteenth-century “missionaryism.”

A united Africa is a strong and independent Africa, an Africa that can stand on its own feet, walk for itself, and avoid the snares and pitfalls devised by the “benevolent” imperialists to keep the mother continent divided, weak, and dependent upon the “philanthropic” West for economic “aid,” political “guidance,” and military “protection.”

During the Second African Summit Conference any unbiased observer could easily see that Africa is making every effort today to stand on her own feet and speak with her own voice. Africa seeks only her rightful place in the sun. The degree to which the well-meaning element in the American public realizes that “to be independent and self-sustaining” is Africa’s only aim, will determine the attitude and the degree of pressure the American public will put upon the politicians at home in order to keep the American Government’s foreign policy toward Africa a policy of genuine assistance instead of the thinly disguised “benevolent” colonialism, “philanthropic” imperialism or what many of the more “cautious recipients” of American economic aid are beginning to label as American dollarism.

I refer to the importance of the well-meaning element of American society being properly informed and having the correct understanding of Africa’s aims and efforts because America today is the leading Western power, and the attitude of the American public can play a vital role in determining whether there will be a positive or negative reaction of the West in the face of Africa’s efforts toward a united and independent continent.

The American people must be made to understand that this vast continent is aflame with the spirit of revolution; not a negative or destructive revolution based on revenge, but a revolution designed to produce the constructive social changes that will bring positive benefits to the long-neglected African people.

The bloodless revolution here in Cairo that dethroned and sent into exile the despotic former King Farouk, and Egypt’s steady progress toward positive social changes during the past twelve years, has made the United Arab Republic and its militant President Gamal Abdel Nasser the cornerstone and pattern of the overall African Revolution.

Despite the distorted picture painted of the United Arab Republic by anti-African propagandists, President Nasser and his able assistants have made great progress in his “step by step” program to bring the benefits of modernization to his people. He has skillfully guided them away from the antiquated liabilities of their past, while at the same time showing them how to retain and harness the assets of their ancient and glorious civilization.

The successful industrialization of the United Arab Republic in just twelve years since the revolution and the thirst he has since inspired within the Egyptian masses to educate themselves in the free schools set up throughout Egypt since the revolution are only a few of the many revolutionary accomplishments that have served as a cornerstone and pattern for the spirit of economic, political, and intellectual independence that has been sweeping this entire mother continent these past twelve years.

And the revolutionary spirit he has inspired here on this continent among his fellow Africans has leaped across the Atlantic Ocean and entered into the heart and mind of 22 million of our people in America who are also of African origin.

The spirit of brotherly understanding and unity in which President Gamal Abdel Nasser opened and conducted the Second African Summit Conference held recently here in Cairo inspired all others with the same spirit of willingness to recognize the necessity for changes, and successfully laid the groundwork for serious discussions toward the formation of a truly independent and United States of Africa.

The success of this Second Summit Conference is not only an overwhelming victory for the people here on the mother continent, but it is also a victory for the 22 million brothers and sisters in America who are of African origin…for we awakening Afro-Americans are well aware today that a united Africa is a strong Africa, and it is only in the strength of our African brothers that we in America will ever realize a true solution to our own struggle for independence and the recognition and respect of our own human rights.

The time has come when the awakened voice of Africa is being heard with a tremendous impact throughout the world, and the ever increasing importance and influence of the voice can be traced to the First African Summit Conference, which was held in Addis Ababa in May of 1963.

It was this First African Summit Conference that laid the foundation for the crushing blow, physically and psychologically, to the schemes of the European and American neo-imperialists to weaken Africa by keeping her artificially divided into “Africa above the Sahara and Africa below the Sahara, Arab Africa and ‘African,’ Muslim Africa and non-Muslim Africa, light-skinned and darkskinned Africa.”
The Summit Conference in Addis Ababa was the first step taken by Africans themselves to destroy these divisive concepts that had been skillfully created and propagated by the American and European neo-imperialists. These successful steps toward unity which were set in motion at the First Summit Conference made the enemies of African unity quite ill and desperate to create new countermeasures to forestall African unity. But the fortunes spent by the neo-imperialists in their divisive propaganda has been like pouring money down the drain because their former African “concubine” has awakened and the illicit honeymoon between Mother Africa and her former European “lovers” is now over forever.

The sunlight of mutual understanding that shined forth brilliantly from the First Summit Conference created a new climate here on the mother continent, ushering in an atmosphere of brotherliness among the various heads of the independent African states. Personality conflicts that formerly kept some of them narrow-minded, shortsighted, and apart were submerged into the background and de-emphasized; and instead areas and topics of common concern, common benefit, and common agreement were emphasized and discussed. The good of Africa was put above the personal feelings of a few individuals.

Yes, the First Summit was indeed an accomplishment within itself. No one selfishly argued that it should be held in Lagos, Accra, Monrovia, Algiers, Khartoum, or Conakry instead of Addis Ababa. They showed respect for Emperor Haile Selassie, even though he was an absolute monarch and most of the others were from anti-monarchy republics. This first Summit brought together the African monarchs, kings, and presidents on the same level…it created a “working atmosphere” between monarchies, kingdoms, and republics, between the big countries and the small ones, those rich in natural resources and those that were almost barren.

Thus, the first Summit created the climate for unity. But it was here in Cairo at the Second African Summit Conference that the real unity of action began to take form, when all the heads of the independent African states denounced imperialism and racism in all of its forms including even the passage of a resolution condemning the continued racist oppression of the 22 million Afro-Americans in the United States. And many of them for the first time joined in denouncing Israel as a base and tool of neo-imperialism, and they openly supported the right of the Arab refugees to return to their Palestine homeland. They could easily see that since over 80 per cent of the Arab world is on the African continent, Arab problems are inseparable from African problems.

The spirit of brotherhood was so strong at this Second Summit Conference that the heads of state not only agreed on the necessity of a united Africa, but they vigorously discussed the problems also of restoring liberty and dignity to the mother continent as a whole. They recognized the Government of Zambia and the Government-in-exile of Angola, accepting both heads of state (Kenneth Kaunda and Robert Holden) as full participants at the Summit Conference. They gave full support to the freedom fighters of the Africa Liberation movement, and expressed concrete plans to assist their freedom struggle both morally and materially, even if it necessitated supplying weapons for an open, bloody revolt against the remaining racist diehards.

Although many of them recognized that Israel is nothing but a base here on the northeast tip of the mother continent for the twentieth-century form of “benevolent colonialism,” they felt that the most pressing problem facing the continent is the openly racist Government occupying South Africa, the remnant of the nineteenth-century colonialism represented by the forced rule of the European minority over the African majority. The collective decisions and resolutions by the Conference to bring strict sanctions against the racist Government of South Africa were agreed to by all of the African heads of state, and thus there is no doubt that this firm stand to support the African majority’s struggle for liberty in that area will step up their efforts to throw out the racist European minority that is forcibly ruling their country.

They also recognized the seriousness of our problem in America, its relationship to the African continent, and their moral obligation to give us their all-out support in our struggle for human rights-and thus my coming to the Summit Conference was not in vain as some elements in the American press have tried to “suggest,” but instead my coming proved to be very fruitful for our freedom struggle in America, and especially for our plan to take our problems before the United Nations. I had traveled over six thousand miles from America to attend this African Summit Conference as an observer. The Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) had sent me to present the true plight and the feelings of 22 million Afro-Americans to these heads of independent African states.

Upon my arrival in Cairo I was met with open arms by the African leaders and their various delegations. I found no doors closed to me. They asked me to prepare a memorandum on the real status of our people in America, explaining how we are also victimized by neo-imperialism in its racist American form, and they urged me to present my memorandum to the Conference so they could take action on it in our behalf.

I tried to summarize our plight in as few words as possible, but my memorandum of continued atrocities against the Afro-American by racists in the United States still stretched into nine pages. It charged America with practicing a worse form of organized racism than South Africa, and described how this racist element in the State Department had skillfully alienated us from the natural sympathy and support of our African brothers in our freedom struggle by using white “liberals” to gain our friendship and confidence in order to “advise” and maneuver us into a twelve-year fight for our civil rights, knowing that as long as our freedom struggle was labeled “civil rights” it would be considered by the African nations as American “domestic” affairs and our plight would remain within the sole jurisdiction of the American Federal Government for a “solution.”

My memorandum charged that this same racist element in the State Department knew that our newly formed Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) was planning to internationalize America’s race problem by lifting it from the level of civil rights to a struggle for the universally recognized human rights, and on these grounds we could then bring America before thc United Nations and charge her with violating the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and thereby of also violating the U.N. Charter itself.

In order to keep the Organization of Afro- American Unity (OAAU) from gaining the interest, sympathy, and support of the independent African states in our effort to bring the miserable plight of the 22 million Afro-Americans before the U.N., the racist element in the State Department very shrewdly gave maximum worldwide publicity to the recent passage of the Civil Rights Bill which was actually only a desperate attempt to make the African states think America was sincerely trying to correct the continued injustices done to us, and thereby maneuver the African Government into permitting America to keep her racism “domestic” and still within her sole jurisdiction.

This racist element within the State Department realizes that if any intelligent, truly militant Afro- American is ever permitted to come before the United Nations to testify in behalf of the 22 million mistreated Afro-Americans, our dark-skinned brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia, and Latin America would then see America as a “brute beast,” even more cruel and vulturous than the colonial powers of Europe and South Africa combined. I was relieved and delighted to learn how easily most of the African heads of state and their advisers could see through the tricks of the American racists. One of them told me he knew the Civil Rights Bill was only a “political maneuver” to capture the Negro votes in the coming elections, and he stressed that it could hardly have been accidental that passage of the bill came to fruition during this crucial election year.

Another described it as a beautiful document on paper but agreed that it was a document that could never be implemented. Another said it was like the novocaine a dentist gives a patient who has a rotten, abscessed tooth without ever pulling the tooth—or treating the condition while ignoring the cause.

All of them with whom I was able to establish personal contact agreed with my contention that our problem was one of human rights instead of only civil rights. They also agreed that we needed and deserved the full support of the entire world in our struggle for human rights.

Thus, these enlightened heads of the thirty-three independent African states at the Second Summit Conference passed a resolution condemning the continued brutal treatment of the Afro-American in the United States, and they voiced full sympathy and support in our struggle to break the yoke of American racism. This resolution had so many frightening implications for America’s future image and position in the world, especially for her foreign policy in this crucial election year; it is not surprising that the American press completely smothered the fact that the Second Summit Conference passed such a resolution, despite the fact that it was sent out over UPI wire services to all the American news outlets. Right up to this moment the American public has never been told that the Second African Summit passed a resolution condemning the mistreatment of the Afro-Americans and voicing full support of our freedom struggle. The voice of Africa is becoming stronger every day.

The spirit of unity here in Cairo during this Second Summit Conference, and their agreement that there is no room here on the mother continent for imperialism any more in any form—and by the time these heads of state convene their Third Summit Conference in Accra next year, most of the remaining strongholds of imperialism are sure to have fallen under the crushing weight of a rising, United Africa!