Black World League I & II
Copyright © Chinweizu 2007
A paper for the 7th PAC, Kampala, April 1994
Objectives: The Black World League (BWL) of Nations, communities and States aims to guarantee the survival, security, sovereignty, prosperity and dignity of the Black race. Its motto is: Black unity, autonomy and one destiny. It shall be an organ of Black civilization, effective in the daily life of the Black peoples of the world. It shall serve as a centre for harmonizing actions for social reconstruction, economic cooperation, industrialization, the resolution of inter-Black conflict, cultural advancement and autonomy in the Black World, and for the collective defense of the shores, lands and skies of the Black World.
Membership: Membership shall be open only to the Black states,
nations and communities in Africa and in the three black diaspora: the
trans-Atlantic, the trans-Sahara and the trans- Indian Ocean.
Principal Organs: Its directing organs shall be
1. The Black World Congress (BWC) of nations, communities and states (the highest policy body of the BWL, which shall meet every five years)
2. The Standing Committee of the BWC (which shall guide the BWL between the sessions of the Assembly)
3. The Black World Secretariat.
Other organs shall include:
4. The Black World High Command (to coordinate defence)
5. The Economic Reconstruction Council
6. The Peace and Arbitration Commission
7. The Black World Bank
8. The Black World Academy of Knowledge, Pure and Applied
9. The Council of Black World Religions
10. The Anti-Negrophobia Society (to campaign against Negrophobia in all its forms)
11. The Council for Black Culture (which shall promote solid knowledge of Black Civilization and cultures, and institutionalize the 10-yearly Black World Festival of the Arts)
12. The Black World Games.
13. The Black Ankh Brigade (for emergency relief and rehabilitation, and which shall have the ankh, the Kemetic cross and symbol of life, for its emblem)
14. The Black Pioneer Movement (for the Afrocentric orientation of the very young)
15. The Black Shield Organisation (for community self-protection and leadership training of the youth).
The Case for the BWL
1. At the heart of the multitude of problems of the Black World is one sad fact: we have lost internal control of our societies at every level — the mind, the family, the village, the town, the economic production unit, the state; and also lost control of our external economic, political, military and cultural relations. The white world, European as well as Arab, controls us, and meddles in our affairs all the way down into our soup pots, thoughts and dreams. When the BWL is operational, no aspect of our lives would be open to control or direction by other races.
2. The BWL institutionalizes the solidarity of the Black race. Those who suffer together on account of their race must organize together to end their suffering. Those who are attacked because of their skin colour must organize and fight back together. That is a simple rule of life. The BWL would remedy the dangerous absence of a Black World organisation, and address our manifest need for collective security in its crucial dimensions — economic, military and territorial.
3. The BWL recognizes the diversity of political and cultural units in the Black World (states, pre-colonial nations or ethnic groups, diaspora communities) and gives them representation. In particular, the BWL consciously brings into the fold of Black solidarity the trans-lndian Ocean diaspora which is usually left out of account in Pan-Africanism.
The BWL is the natural institutional embodiment of Pan- Africanism, which George Padmore, the principal organizer of the 5th PAC in Manchester in 1945, defined ascentury vehicle for the Pan African Movement's traditional role as articulator of the demands and needs of the Negro race, and for its paramount concern to ensure that the Negro race should develop un-hindered by other races.
The BWL is also the natural institutional embodiment of the Garvey Movement which, in Du Bois's words; was a " border="0" alt="" />
4. It perhaps needs to be emphasized that Pan-Africanism was founded as a movement of blacks for the advancement of the Black race. In Du Bois's own account of its history, given in his opening address to the 5th PAC in Manchester, we find the demands of the earlier Pan-African Congresses described as the demands of the Negro race. Specifically, those of the 2nd PAC are introduced by the phrase "The Negro race, through their thinking intelligentsia, demand:". Similarly, the resolutions of the 4th PAC begin with the phrase "Negroes everywhere need:". The resolutions of the 1st PAC contain the phrase "The Negroes of the world demand". And those of the 3rd PAC are studded with the phrases "black folks", "black Africans", "blacks". Nowhere do the resolutions of these four congresses, by Du Bois's own report, say: "The Negroes and Arabs demand", or "The Negroes and Boers demand", or "The Negroes of the World and the white settlers in Africa demand". The racial constituency of Pan-Africanism must be kept clear at all limes, for Pan-Africanism loses its point, its reason for being, its potency, if it loses its black identity. Lagos, Nigeria 26 January, 1994
II: For a Black World League of Nations* My plans [for the Pan-African Congress of 1919] as they developed had in them nothing spectacular nor revolutionary. If in decades or a century they resulted in such world organisation of black men as would oppose a united front to European aggression, that certainly would not have been beyond my dream. But on the other hand, in practical reality, I knew the power and guns of Europe and America and what I wanted to do was in the face of this power to sit down hand in hand with coloured groups and across the council table to learn of each other, our condition, our aspirations, our chances for concerted thought and action.
As far as Negroes are concerned, in America we have the problem of lynching, peonage and disfranchisement. In the West Indies, South and Central America we have the problem of peonage, serfdom, industrial and political governmental inequality. In Africa we have, not only peonage and serfdom, but outright slavery, racial exploitation and alien political monopoly. We cannot allow a continuation of these crimes against our race.
- First published in The Guardian (Lagos) August 18, 25 and September 1, 1985.
What ought to be Nigeria's position on a proposal that has been making the rounds of African capitals for the past year or so, a proposal to create an Organisation of Black African States? I have long held that some such organisation is a geopolitical necessity, is long overdue, and should have been the natural culmination, in Africa, of the world-wide Pan-Africanist movement of the first half of the 20th century. Why that movement petered out by the 1950s, why such an organisation was not created when the black African countries got independence, and why an Afro-Arab forum, the OAU, was deemed an adequate substitute for that organisation, is a case study in African failure to uphold cardinal principles. One joke has it that Nasser slyly gave Nkrumah an Arab wife, and Nkrumah couldn't see straight after that on Pan-Africanism. Up till Manchester,1 the Pan-African world, for Nkrumah, meant the Black World; after Fathia,2 it meant the African land mass with its Arab and African dwellers. And with Nkrumah championing it, that has been the reigning version of Pan-Africanism ever since. I am glad that at last an organisation that would reflect the proper sense of Pan-Africanism is being seriously considered, even if a quarter of a century late. Better late than never. However, now that we seem about to do it, we should take pains to do it correctly. Which is why I would suggest that the objective ought to be a Black World League of Nations embracing all black states in the world, not just those of Africa. Let me explain why. The context of this discourse is the great and enduring competition between the major races of the human species. Whether some of us want to acknowledge it or not, that competition has been on for thousands of years under various disguises, and has been a decisive factor in international relations ever since the different races of the species came into conflict for land and the earth's resources. Those who ignore that competition-for land, resources, wealth, power and prestige-do so at their own peril: for what chance have they of winning a war who don't know, or choose not to acknowledge, that it is already on and far advanced? In that long contest, there have been four main teams: the white or Caucasian race, the yellow or Mongolian race, the black or African race and the red or Amerindian race. We may, for now, leave out of account those populations produced by miscegenation between the primary races, such as the brown people of India-who are the result of some 4,000 years of miscegenation between white Aryan invaders from the region of Iran, and the autochthonous Dravidian blacks of the Indian subcontinent. In the four-way contest, the reds have had the worst of it, having been virtually exterminated. The blacks have had it second worst, having been invaded and decimated in their homelands, carted all over the place for enslavement, and dominated by all comers, especially the west-European and the semitic branches of the white race. The yellows have come off second best, having been able to defend their east Asian homeland from all comers, without being exterminated, without being dispersed for enslavement. Those who have come off best thus far are the whites. From their relatively small homeland in west Eurasia, they have spread out and taken over more than half of the earth's land mass; with their seizure of so much land, their population exploded till they now make up well over one-third of humanity. Furthermore, they have imposed their political, military, economic and cultural power upon the whole earth, to the extent that whites control at least 95 per cent of the earth's known resources, and the two current superpowers are white. Every white knows of this great, intra-specific competition for survival and advancement, and acts accordingly. In fact, their doctrine of white supremacy has acted as a morale booster for their team, and as an implicit reminder that there indeed is a contest going on. They are all committed to their side, which is why, whenever the chips are down, all white powers will gang up against non-whites; why Russia and the USA will patch up their allegedly irreconcilable and unto-the-death dispute over ideology, and defuse a Cuban missile crisis which would have wiped out the white powers and left the world to be inherited by the other races; which is why the atom bomb was used on Japan but not on Germany. In contrast, most blacks seem unaware of the competition, and all too many refuse to accept that if you are black, your team is that of the black race; that the cardinal interest of your team is the survival, sovereignty, dignity and prosperity of blacks, and that any other position would be unnatural. It is this contest between the races which creates the agenda that makes necessary a Black World League of Nations. And the main point on that agenda is the very survival of the black race; and its second point is the condition in which the race shall survive-whether in dignity or degradation, prosperity or poverty, sovereignty or subordination. Which brings us back to Pan-Africanism before the Fathia factor. The impetus for Pan-Africanism came from the humiliating fact that, by the end of the 19th century, the entire Black World, in the African homeland as well as the diaspora, lay under a blanket of white power. Only two African peoples-in Liberia and Ethiopia-had states of their own. But even these were impoverished satellites to white powers. That, in many ways, was the nadir for the black race. Things had declined from that high point where black Egypt was a beacon of civilisation to the entire world, to the point where the entire Black World had been overrun by white power. The aims of the Pan-Africanism which this terrible situation provoked were to roll white power off the backs of blacks; to create independent and self-governing black states; and through some unifying organisation, to get these states to create a power and a glory that would restore prosperity and dignity to the black race. It was the spirit of that movement, as enunciated by Edward Blyden, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Claude McKay and others, which prodded on such African freedom fighters as Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Azikiwe and Senghor. They, in turn, galvanised countless Africans of their generation for the initial task of gaining independence for African countries. But alas, on leading their countries to independence, Africa's freedom fighters faltered on many points. They pretty much lost sight of the Pan-Africanist movement itself, and forgot the obligations its larger aims imposed upon them. Instead, the politically self-governing states became petty ends in themselves; the idea of black solidarity was abandoned, and a thorough confusion of identity caused the movement for an organisation of the independent states of the Black World to be diverted into the dead end of an Afro-Arab forum called the OAU. Even Senghor's effort to keep FESTAC all-black was defeated. And even such of those historic tasks as were still pursued-such as the ending of racism and apartheid in South Africa-lacked the clarity and cohesion necessary for their effective execution. Yet, despite the floundering of the past 25 years, the unfinished agenda is still there, waiting for us. It cannot be willed away for as long as the contest between the races of humanity lasts. And the outstanding points on that agenda? First, the fostering of a sense of the primacy of black identity, and the historic duties it imposes on all members of the black race; second, the expelling of white conquerors from southern Africa; third, the abolition of black slavery in both South Africa and North Africa, especially in Mauritania; fourth, stopping Arab expansion south of the Sahara, particularly through the defence of the northern frontline states of Ethiopia, Chad, and Sudan against encroachment and dismemberment by Arabs and their agents; fifth, the monitoring of the condition of the black diaspora, especially the black minorities in the Americas, Europe and Australasia, and the countering of anti-black racism wherever it occurs; and sixth, fostering black solidarity through the popularisation of the correct version of black history, through official observation of important events on the calendar of the Black World, and through celebrating the heroes of the Black World, from Menes to Mandela, Kamose to Kenyatta, Akhenaton to Azikiwe, Shabaka to Senghor, Nektharehbe to Nkrumah, Taharka to Tambo.
These are some of the historic tasks which still await a world organisation of black states. What is needed is an organisation through which all black states, regardless of their internal arrangements, regardless of their other external affiliations, can get together, without outsiders, to work for solutions to the historic problems of the black race. From the foregoing, it should be clear that a Black World League of Nations is a historic necessity, and that setting it up is one of the historic tasks for the rest of the century. Despite all that, we can expect resistance to the project from all sorts of Africans who are either confused about the implications of their racial identity, or are happily subservient to various anti-African interests. Predictably, some will retort: "Another organisation? Don't we already have the OAU?" Some others will say: "An organisation without our Arab brothers? Must we go it alone?" And yet others will demand: "An all-Black League? Wouldn't that be racist?" So, let me briefly answer some of these objections right away. About the OAU, it must be candidly stated that it was inadequate from the start, that time has only made it worse, and that its inherent perversions have become manifest. As a coalition of Arab and African states, it perverts the fundamental goals of the very Pan-Africanism which was the impetus to its formation. It does so by including one branch of the white race, the Arabs, which had perpetrated, and still is determined to perpetrate, upon the black race the very atrocities which Pan-Africanism arose to oppose, namely, conquest, expropriation, slavery and racism. Had that principle which excluded a white, racist South Africa been applied with consistency and historical knowledge, it should have also excluded from the OAU all the Arab states of North Africa. But in the confused climate of the 1960s, in the euphoria of anti-European solidarity, Africans lost their bearings, got confused about what Pan-Africanism was really about, and with Nkrumah's help, allowed PanAfricanism to be hijacked by the Arabs and emasculated within the OAU. Once that initial perversion is comprehended, much of the OAU's subsequent erratic career becomes explainable. For instance, it is significant just how many of the issues which have bogged it down have been Arab issues, whereas other issues which ought to have preoccupied it have been left untouched lest Arab sensitivities be offended. Just consider Chad, the SADR, and the Ogaden war. In Chad, the OAU was bogged down and compelled to squander resources to contain Libya's effort to grab and annex Chad, thus expropriating it for the Arab world. The conflict over the Saharaoui Arab Democratic Republic-which obstructed OAU deliberations on so many occasions and even kept it, for quite a while, from attending to the vital matter of Africa's economic collapse-is in fact a conflict between various Arab interests over which of them should gobble up a slice of Africa abandoned by Spain. And as for the Ogaden war, it became an instrument in the old Arab effort to dismember Ethiopia and Arabise the Horn of Africa when the Somalis were encouraged into it by Saudi promises to help on condition that Somalia join the Arab League. What is worse, this anti-African aspect of the conflict was not highlighted and opposed by the OAU; the premise of its conciliation efforts thus implicitly legitimised an unconscionable act of Arab expansionist brigandage. Whereas the OAU had been bogged down by such issues, it hasn't found it possible to raise such issues as the enslavement of blacks in Mauritania; the Saudi-led Arab financing of the dismemberment of Ethiopia through muslim factions in Eritrea; or the African-Arab conflict within the Sudan. These topics have been taboo. An OAU where such issues as would top the agenda of a genuinely Pan-Africanist organisation cannot be raised; an OAU that is distracted by dissensions arising from Arab adventures against Africans, cannot claim to be the fulfilment of the Pan-Africanist dream of an organisation for ending the humiliations of the black race. This perversion of including Arabs aside, the OAU, as is well known, is also under the thumb of the Western powers who still manage to wield more influence in it than all the African members put together. When these facts are taken into account, one must conclude that the OAU is conceptually and operationally a disaster for Africans. I would even go so far as to urge that that freak organisation be disbanded; for it is an impediment which is masquerading as a channel for African liberation and advancement. To those who feel uncomfortable at the idea of breaking out of the Arab-African embrace; who think that solidarity with others requires that we sacrifice our separate identity and organisations, a question demands to be put: Don't those Arab `brothers' of yours have their own separate Arab League? Have they disbanded it? Where is the Black World equivalent of their Arab League? Whatever the merits and demerits of Afro-Arab solidarity on certain issues, that should not blind us to our need to have an organisation all to ourselves. To refuse to create a separate Pan-African organisation (in the original and proper sense of Pan-African as Black World), would be like sheep insisting that jackals always be present whenever sheep meet. That way, the sheep can never get to discuss how to rid themselves of the menace of sheep-eating jackals. Objections, even violent objections, to any organisation exclusively for the black race can be expected from those Africans who are victims of the various pseudo-universalist doctrines which make white hegemony acceptable to its victims. For instance, African Christians, with their dream of a universal human brotherhood in Christ, in which all are equal without regard to race, are likely to look with revulsion at the prospect of a Black World organisation whose doors would be barred to their white co-religionists. So too African Muslims with their passionate desire for that Dar el Islam where there is no racial discrimination; so too African Marxists with their preoccupation with that abstract universal working class in which racial considerations are either abolished or taboo. Of course, like deluded people, they mistake their dream world for the real world and, like the mad, behave as if their dream world were already here.
But we need, all the same, to understand such absurd behaviour. Those white-sponsored universalisms have strong appeal for those blacks who are anxious to escape their racial particularity into some alleged universality. They are usually people who, overwhelmed by white supremacist propaganda, have come to accept that the black race is inferior, despicable, and only fit to be escaped from by anyone unfortunate enough to be born into it. And since they cannot remake themselves into whites (though many try by bleaching their skins and brainwashing their minds), the only way of escaping from the despised black race is into some universalist community and identity, created by whites, and left open to all comers who need a sense of proximity to the whites. It is of such people that Marcus Garvey said: "So many of us find excuses to get out of the Negro Race, because we are led to believe that the race is unworthy-that it has not accomplished anything. Cowards that we are! It is we who are unworthy, because we are not contributing to the uplift and up-building of this noble race."4 What such Africans will not face up to is that these versions of universal human brotherhood have failed to address the core of the historical problems of the black race; and that their proprietors have also inflicted-or proved unable to stop their racial brothers from inflicting-conquest, slavery and racism upon blacks. What these fake doctrines of universalism succeed in hiding from their African adherents is that their alleged colour blindness is but a gimmick to keep blacks from organising separately to tackle the problems imposed on them across the line of colour. Those Africans who are so eager to flee into any of these allegedly universal, colour blind communities (Christendom, Dar el Islam, the world proletariat) tend to cower at the thought of being accused of "anti-racist racism" by their white friends. Let it therefore be made clear why such accusations are false.
Pan-Africanism does not claim that the black race is superior to any other and should rule others; that would be black racism. Pan-Africanism is simply concerned with the unification and upliftment of the black race, and with the development of its civilisation. Now, that does not constitute racism. Those who accuse Pan-Africanism of racism are actually opposed to the prospect of that black unity which would exclude whites from meddling in matters of vital interest to blacks, and so limit the ability of white racists to infiltrate, disorganise and dominate the Black World. The charge is predicated on the gratuitous error of equating the racial with the racist. To be racial is to be limited to members of a given race; to be racist is to believe in the inherent superiority of a given race. Thus, an organisation can be racial without being racist. This distinction is vital, and any attempt to gloss it over must be resisted. Glossing it over is what allows racists to weaken resistance from victims of their own racism by claiming that any anti-racist organisation must be multi-racial, thus enabling racists to join, undermine and sidetrack it from a determined assault on their cherished racism. Some of those who accept the need for a separate Black World organisation may still prefer that it be called the African or Pan-African League of Nations. And they may do so from residual unease about using the racial term black. Those who are squeamish about being called black or negro are free to substitute the term African, provided they recognise the equivalence of the terms, and use them correctly. After all, an African is defined as a negro, a member of the black race, a native of Africa. Thus, a white African is a contradiction in terms. In particular, Arabs, being whites native to Asia; and Anglo/Boers, being whites native to Europe, are not Africans, whatever their pretensions, and they cannot legitimately be included in an African or PanAfrican organisation. So long as that rule is clearly understood and is not violated (which it has been in the OAU), there should be no objection to the substitution of "PanAfrican" for "Black World". By the way, from the definition of African, the term black African is tautologous. Though the redundancy is judged useful for distinguishing Africans from the white settlers in Africa, it is dangerously misleading in so far as it lends credence to the idea that there is such a thing as a white African. Its practical harm, as in the matter of including Arabs in an African organisation, is ample reason for putting it out of use. A black African is simply an African; white settlers in Africa are simply white settlers in Africa. While on this matter of language, we might as well attend to a misuse of the term black, which is spreading from the USA and Britain, to denote all non-white groups which suffer racial discrimination. Thus, Pakistanis in Britain are suddenly regarded as blacks. This metaphoric use of the term ought to be strictly discouraged before we are told, and find gullible Africans accepting, that Pakistanis, Mexicans, Vietnamese, and even Turks and Arabs, are blacks simply because they are discriminated against in Europe and America; and that they should therefore be admitted into any organisation of the black race. Furthermore, to use black as a metaphor for victimage and being oppressed is to lend credence to the view that these are the natural lot of the black race. To be oppressed is not our natural lot; it has only been our lot in recent history; all races have suffered oppression at some time or other in history; and we would be stupid to allow black to be seen as the badge of victimage. Besides, the very point of a Black World League of Nations is to end the oppression of blacks, not to perpetuate it, not even in matters of symbolism. Black should therefore cease to be the symbolic colour of victimage, and should become the symbol, if anything, of victory against oppression. In fact, this matter of propagating correct usages of words like African and black, and of ending the racist associations which have accumulated on them, should be added to the agenda of the Black World League of Nations.
Having indicated at some length why a Black World League of Nations is absolutely necessary, and why objections to it are untenable, it remains simply to emphasise that, in the context of the competition between the races, if you are black or African, your team is the black race; and it is futile to pretend that it is not. It is naive in the extreme to think you can wish away your racial identity, and substitute for it some changeable class identity or an adopted religious identity. Furthermore, a rat doesn't cease being preyed upon just because it dresses up like a cat, and thinks it is a cat. What is done to rats will be done to it, until rats get together and cut off the claws of cats.
Nigeria, with its size and resources, with its pretensions to being the giant nation in the Black World, with its desire to be seen as a champion of black liberation, cannot afford to oppose such an organisation without thereby making it quite clear that it is the giant obstacle to the liberation of the black race. After all, the objectives outlined above for such a league are precisely some of the inescapable steps towards the liberation and rehabilitation of the black race from its centuries of subjugation and humiliation by others.
About the author: Chinweizu is an institutionally unaffiliated Afrocentric scholar. A historian and cultural critic, his books include The West and the Rest of Us (1975), Second, enlarged edition (1987); Invocations and Admonitions (1986); Decolonising the African Mind (1987); Voices from Twentieth-century Africa (1988); Anatomy of Female Power (1990). He is also a co-author of Towards the Decolonization of African Literature (1980). His pamphlets include The Black World and the Nobel (1987); and Recolonization or Reparation? (1994) He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
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- Menes: The unifier (c. 3200 B.c.) and first pharaoh of Egypt. Mandela, Nelson: (20th century A.D.) Freedom fighter and symbol of Black resistance to white domination in apartheid South Africa. Kamose: (16th century B.C.) Egyptian noble who raised the revolt that eventually threw out the Asiatic Hyksos invaders and ended their rule. Kenyatta, Jomo: (20th century A.D.) Freedom fighter and first president of Kenya. Akhenaton: (14th century A.D.) Egyptian pharaoh and religious revolutionary, inventor of monotheism. Azikiwe, Nnamdi: (20th century A.D.) Anti-colonialist leader and first president of Nigeria. Shabaka: (8th century B.C.) Nubian prince who completed the conquest of Egypt, begun by his brother Piankhi, and established the 25th dynasty of pharaonic Egypt. Senghor, Leopold Sedar: (20th century A.D.) A leader of the Negritude movement, first president of Senegal, and sponsor of the first World Festival of Negro Arts (1966) Nekhtharehbe: (4th century B.C.) Last native Egyptian pharaoh during the brief reassertion of Egyptian independence before the second Persian conquest in 343 B.C. Nkrumah, Kwame: (20th century A.D.) Anti-colonialist leader, first president of Ghana, and champion of Pan- Africanism. Taharka: (7th century B.C.) 25th dynasty Pharaoh who resisted a determined Assyrian invasion of Egypt. Tambo, Oliver: (20th century A.D.) Freedom fighter, leader of the African National Congress of South Africa.
- Marcus Garvey, Philosophy and Opinions, p.6.