In the US, Frantz Fanon is best known for his influence on the Black Power movement of the sixties and seventies. The author of two major books on Black identity,* Fanon died at age 37 (in 1961).
Prior to watching this film, I was unaware that Fanon left Martinique in 1941 to fight in De Gaulle’s Free French Army. According to family members and friends, it was largely racist abuse he experience in this setting that led him to become a revolutionary.
At the end of the war, he studied philosophy briefly before transferring to medicine. Black Face White Masks, which he wrote as a dissertation for his doctorate in medicine, was rejected by his dissertation committee.
Following graduation he worked at the Blida mental hospital in Algeria, where he became convinced that the “mental illness” he observed in his patients largely stemmed from the system of racist apartheid the French imposed on Algerian Arabs. He was in continuous strife with hospital authorities for his “radical” reforms, including removing the barbed wire fence surrounding the hospital and allowing patients picks and shovels to create a soccer field on hospital grounds.
Resigning in frustration, he moved to Tunis to join the Algerian revolution after the French government expelled him from Algeria.
While there he also played a major role in the All African Congress started by Ghanaian Revolutionary Kwame Nkrumah.
Africa is a 1984 documentary exploring the great civilizations of Africa. In it, late historian Basil Davidson demolishes the myths Europeans concocted about Africa to justify the 400 year slave trade – these myths concerning a continent of subhuman savages persist to the present day. Davidson reviews archeological evidence, ancient African and Europeans artwork and historical records and contemporary tribal traditions that survive from past civilizations.
The documentary is divided into 8 episodes of approximately 25 minutes each.
Episode 1 Different But Equal – studies the depiction of blacks in medieval and renaissance European paintings to show how the concept of race was created in the 16th century to justify the immensely profitable enslavement of human paintings. He starts with an examination of cave paintings that point to a highly advanced Saharan civilization prior to the Sahara’s desertification (around 7,000–8,000 years ago and the prominence of black-skinned the 3,000-year civilization Egypt enjoyed under the pharaohs.
Episode 2 Mastering a Continent – focuses on Kushites and the great Nubian civilization to the south of Egypt. The latter converted to Christianity and persisted until the 11th century when it was destroyed (by Saracens) during the Crusades.
Episode 3 Caravans of Gold – discusses the vast commercial trade network (extending as far as India) centered in Timbuktu (Mali) and the Ashanti civilization (in modern day Ghana). In the 14th century, Mali converted to Islam. Under the guidance of Muslim scholars, Timbuktu became a global center of Islamic scholarship in law, literature and science.
Episode 4 The King and the City Within – describes the civilizations of Huaser, Benin and Ethe in modern day Nigeria.
Episode 5 The Bible and the Gun – covers the arrival of the Europeans and the devastating of slavery on long established African civilizations. Over 400 years, the African continent lost approximately 15 million skilled craftsmen and farmers. As the slave trade declined in the 18th and 19th century, Europeans opened up Africa’s interior in order to exploit its rich natural resources. As in Latin American and Asia, Christian missionaries played a fundamental role in this process.
Episode 6 The Magnificent African Cake – gives an overview of the extensive European military campaigns that flattened African resistance to colonization. By 1914, Liberia and Ethiopia were the only two countries not under European military control.
Episode 7 The Rise of Nationalism – relates how forced conscription in World War I and World War II radically changed Africans’ view of Europeans and fueled demands for independence. The Gold Coast (later renamed Ghana by President Dr Kwame Nkrumah) would launch the first independence struggle in 1945. Davidson contrasts this with the more bloody independence struggles in Kenya, Algeria and other countries with substantial(European) settler populations.
Episode 8 Legacy – explores how the adoption of European-style Parliamentary systems proved disastrous for many African countries. Davidson blames this on the fact that Parliamentary government is based on a well established class divisions. It worked poorly in Africa owing to the continent’s historic tendency towards egalitarianism.
The following presentation by Friends of the Congo Executive Director Maurice Carney provides an elegant but horrifying summary of the CIA’s 50-year assault on the Republic of Congo. The Congo has the distinct misfortune of having amazingly rich mineral resources (uranium, gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and especially coltran*). The result has been a single minded determination by Wall Street and the CIA to destroy democratic rule in that country. I was well aware of the importance of CIA and US State Department in destabilizing Latin America, Asia, Russia and the Middle East. Until recently I was less aware of their aggressive machinations in Africa.
According to Carney, their first president Patrice Lumumba became a high priority CIA target it due to joint efforts with Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to establish a United States of Africa. This presumably would have granted the continent total independence of US corporate rule.
After briefly summarizing the county’s ruthless colonization by Belgium, Carney describes the Congo’s struggle for independence under Patrice Lumumba in 1960, the first and only legitimately elected president. After assassinating Lumumba, the CIA installed a 30 year dictatorship to ensure US corporations continued access to Congo’s resources on their terms.
In 1996, the people of Congo had just overthrown the dictatorship and installed democratic government when the CIA instigated puppet sociopaths ( Paul Kagami of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda) to invade and instigate a 20 year civil war in Congo. In addition to providing them military aid and training, the US government actively covers up Kagami and Museveni’s war crimes, resulting in millions of civilian deaths.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has recently ordered to Uganda to pay millions in reparations to Congo. As Rwanda doesn’t belong to the ICJ, Spanish courts (under the authority of universal jurisdiction) have indicted 40 top Rwandan officials for war crimes
Current Congo president Joseph Kabila, also handpicked by the CIA, who succeeded his father Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001), maintains power by way of a US-rigged election in 2006 and massive electoral fraud in 2011.