Marcus Garvey is rightly lionized as one of the key figures behind the pan-African movement. He, more than most inspired black people, feels a pride which had long been slumbering due to centuries of non-stop exploitation and the accompanying brainwashing which is necessary to ensure that people are open to exploitation.
His reminders that we had a long and glorious history filled with many accomplishments inspired many, and his call for the black man to do business with his brother along with his championing of education ensured that he would have a loyal following. One area however where he continues to be thought of as an extremist is that of the Back to Africa movement. While many endorsed his calls for supporting black-owned enterprises, many then saw and continue today to see his Back to Africa movement and statements as an admission of defeat in this part of the world.
I will not lie. Years ago I was firmly in the camp which disagreed with his Back to Africa movement and statements, if only because I believed that we could build ourselves up in these ‘foreign’ lands. However, what has unfolded in my lifetime, particularly over the past decade, has forced a complete re-evaluation of that stance and I now find myself openly and firmly stating that a Back to Africa movement is probably the only thing which will allow the black man to prosper. In other words, I am with Garvey wholeheartedly on this one.
Back to Africa has never and will never mean all black people and descendants of Africans leaving their current nations and going back to the ‘motherland’. No, it is simply an extension of the pro-black business campaign which most persons believe is a grand idea.
Garvey himself poo-pooed the idea of all negros making the return to the ancestral homeland; instead what he called for was that the best and brightest amongst us go to Africa to build it up, make the then colonies within it powerhouses so that they could wrest independence from the Europeans.
Today, it is not so different, the now independent nations which make up the African continent are not masters of their own destinies. The richest and most powerful individuals in those nations are almost never from the same racial pool and members of the African diaspora are still the most oppressed in the countries where they reside outside of the continent. This is so because the black man has not been on equal footing with the dominant races for some 700 years (when the Europeans came to exclusively trade on the West African coast).
We as the black race have tried living in harmony and unison with others. We have tried to uplift ourselves within the confines of the old plantation nations after centuries of forced degradation and time after time we have been shafted. Even W.E.B Dubois, who wasn’t a fan of the Back to Africa movement and championed the black man fighting for his rights in the old plantation states, died in Africa after being hounded by the US for decades due to his black activism.
A Back to Africa movement, while not impossible, was not very practical when it was first envisioned. In those days the steamer was king and the continent had virtually one independent nation. However, today in the era of relatively cheap high-speed long-distance transportation and with virtually the whole continent free from foreign rule it is high time we give serious thought to a Back to Africa movement.
We must send our sons and daughters, our best and our brightest, to Angola, Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville for example (Portuguese, English and French-speaking nations) so they may aid in building those nations to become powerhouses. Once a few African nations are in the first world camp, the black man will begin to receive some respect (see Japan and China). However, that can’t be the end of it.
Those of us who are left behind in the former plantation nations must do what the Chinese, Indians and Jews/Israelis have done and form lobbying groups. One of the chief reasons that persons of those categories have so much leeway is not simply because their nations (or parents’ nations) have power, it is because their diaspora has united and formed lobby groups and are in almost constant contact with their nations through emissaries and ambassadors.
The new groups must not solely be used for political lobbying, however. They must act as trade delegations, actively trade with the continent on a business level and push their home nations to have greater trade interactions with the African continent. They must act as agents providing African culture in their home nations which are awash with the Euro-American cultures which both implicitly and explicitly demean and degrade the black man.
These linkages, that is the trade and culture, would not simply be part of some fraternal union, the aim isn’t simply to ‘big up’ Africa and our African culture. The long-term aim would always be driving the continent and its nations towards first world status, where their cultures are enjoyed worldwide (as sushi and orchestral music are today). In short, it is to ensure that the continent and her nations are on an equal footing with the rest of the world.
Without equality, a just deal can’t be made; without equality, one party becomes master while the other becomes a servant. That is where we as a race find ourselves now and that is why the black man is the most oppressed wherever one looks. With a few strong and successful nations on the African continent that would change. Gender, class, education and cultural differences could be ironed out without the forest of racism which currently hinders us from doing so in the former plantations.
It may sound extreme, it may even sound racialistic, but as far as I can see that is simply the reality. Until we in the diaspora and on the continent unite, build up her nations, engage in greater trade and export culture, the black man will always be on an unequal footing and subservient. It’s time to seriously think about going to Africa.