Lumumba, Mandela and Africa’s Next Strategy

LumumbaFifty years after Lumumba was assassinated and the passing of Nelson Mandela, Africa’s strategy must now emphasize intellectual and economic freedom. The necessary liberation must now be secured through incisive independent knowledge founded on strength of character, courage and fearlessness.
January 2014 marks the 50th commemoration of the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba. Lumumba was one of the greatest forces behind the wrestling of independence from the unwilling hands of Belgian colonizers of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Africa’s most celebrated freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela exited this realm at the 50 year mark of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination. Mandela’s transition and Lumumba’s commemoration hold deep meanings for a continent that remains structurally, intellectually and economically shackled by existing and emerging internal and external forces and factors.

Mandela’s peaceful transition on the eve of the 50th year remembrance of Lumumba’s violent exit signifies the end and the beginning of an era for Africa. Both men stood for freedom and spoke truth to power. Both gave their lives. Lumumba’s was cut short. Mandela’s was taken in installments, the longest of which was 27 years. Both men represented sometimes synchronized, sometimes divergence strategies in their fight for freedom, but at the core, both demanded political liberation and both got it, at least in-principle, prior to their demise.

The glaring realization for Africans left behind to savor political freedom is that what is yet to be gained for Africa, is – shocking to admit – way beyond what was painfully gained by Lumumba and Mandela. In a post Mandela and post 50th Lumumba era, Africans need a novel plan of action, a change of strategy in order to consolidate on the political freedom brought by the martyrs. The desperate need of Africans of today is intellectual and economic freedom. Take those two away and the next fifty years for the continent will meet the next generation of Africans marking 100 years of Lumumba’s exit, 50 years of Mandela transition and 150 years of Africa’s underdevelopment.

Only recently, it was quite a common but erroneous assumption across Africa, that freedom from external political oppression held the magic wand to all other freedoms. For decades after the words were uttered, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah’s “seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things shall be added unto you,’ resonated across the continent south of the Sahara. But by the time Nelson Mandela was released from prison, the oppressor was willing and ready to give political freedom, which was no longer to his advantage. Fresh from prison, Mandela was handed blueprints and fine prints to ponder, with the likes of Jacob Zuma whose unfortunate background did not grant the privilege of any form of classroom learning or interaction. There was no Google to quickly check through facts and precedents and read up theories, strategies and tactics. The South African apartheid regime impressed it upon Nelson Mandela and his team that they were fighting for political freedom and that they could have it. The words of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah sounded fresh in the ears of Mandela and his negotiating team. Yes, political power was everything they needed. With a satisfactory smirk, the apartheid regime gave political power with the left hand, and with the right hand, the hand of might, held on the most fundamental power needed in the present dispensation – economic power.

Continue reading this article at Pambazuka News.
By: Chika Ezeanya


Leave a Reply