How do We Continue the Fight when the Head has been Cut Off?

Patrice Lumumba

As we celebrate the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo from Belgium, I cannot help but think of Patrice Lumumba, gone too soon, assassinated by the imperialist forces that were Belgium, the CIA and more. As I think about him, I cannot help but think of Amilcar Cabral, killed for his fight for the independence of his country, or Thomas Sankara the legendary President of the Faso… and then I think about how long it took for Burkina Faso to wake up from its slumber after Sankara’s murder: 27 years! Samora Machel, Modibo Keita, Kwame Nkrumah, Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie, Sylvanus Olympio, Ernest Ouandie, Barthelemy Boganda, Mehdi Ben Barka, Muammar Kadhafi, … the list is so long…The question is great: How do we continue the fight when the head has been cut off? How do we continue fighting when the leader has been killed, or incapacitated, or as in some cases has been corrupted or coerced or turned over by the enemies?

A recent case has had my head spinning with this fundamental question: how do we keep going when the movement has been decapitated? Or when the leader is no longer fit to lead? I do not claim to have the answers as this is a crucial question, but it is worth pondering.

Thomas Sankara

I recently read “The Cost of Sugar” by Cynthia McLeod, where she talks about the fight of the Maroons or Boni or Alukus of Surinam for freedom. Surinam was a Dutch colony, and so the Dutch crown sent troops to fight the rebellious slaves; they also hired local slaves to whom they promised liberty and land in return for fighting the Maroons. The Maroons never gave up! They were well organized, even though they had very little and were under-armed, and lived in the bush. Their leaders were very often killed, but they kept the fight… they were fighting for their freedom: men, women, and even children contributed to the fight. Yes… they terrorized the planters for many years, they were defeated, and fled to neighboring French Guyana, but kept the fight. Why? Because the prize of freedom is too great to lay on the shoulders of one man, one leader, or a few… the fight must continue in spite of some men (betrayers and others)… we do not follow men, we follow ideas… we are not fighting for men, we are fighting for our right to dignity, our right to humanity, our liberty.

Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau
Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau

We have to keep the fight. Yes, it is okay to cry, it is okay to fall, feel discouraged, but we have to rise up, and keep up the fight. We might be disappointed by the so-called leaders who may turn their backs on us and betray us [“The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral, J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More], or we might get discouraged when our leaders and hopes have been killed, but we have to keep the fight. We rise up! Dust off ourselves, and keep on fighting! The enemy will try many tactics to distract us from our goals, because the enemy lives on our ignorance, the enemy flourishes on our divisions, our disappointments, and discouragements. We cannot afford to cry too long! When a leader no longer matches our ideals, we put him to the side and keep on fighting. We are not fighting for ourselves, we are fighting for our ancestors who died fighting, we are fighting for our children who should not be beggars on their own lands while the enemy feasts on it. We fight because it is more than just us. Dignity, freedom, is a divine right, and it is ours… we need to claim it!

It took 100 years for China to reclaim Hong Kong and Macao from the British… China was able to do so because its leaders kept telling them how Great Britain made them sign treacherous treaties and stole their lands, they did not hide it from their people like many African leaders do [Did You Know about the 999-year Lease granted to Europeans in Kenya ?]. As a result, 100 years later, the Chinese leaders went to the British, and said “time is up, give us back our lands”. The leaders who were forced to sign these treaties 100 years prior were no longer alive, but the history, the preparation, the muscling up, the battle continued!… so we have to plan over decades, generations, to ensure continuity in the battle, implying education, real knowledge of our history (our triumphs as well as our defeats and the causes), the stakes, and keeping a living memory of our history. It may take years, decades, even a century like China with Macao, but we have to grow, know, and muscle up… we cannot keep crying.

Hugo Chavez: ‘Love is the Combustible of Revolution’

Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez

Words cannot express my extreme sadness at the loss of yet another one of our revolutionaries.  ‘El Comandante‘, Hugo Chavez, has left us yesterday to join the land of his ancestors.  I am extremely saddened at his passing, but I am also grateful to have lived in a time when I could see Hugo Chavez at work for his country, at a time when I could see what it meant for a leader of a poor country to have love and vision for his country.  Few leaders in the world have fought against western imperialism as Hugo Chavez did.  He led the bolivarian revolution against the US influence in Venezuela, and Latin America.  He gave back hope to his people, emancipated millions of Venezuelans, regained control of the economy of Venezuela, and worked for world peace by openly opposing the US and its colonial wars.  Millions of Venezuelans regained sight, were taught how to read, or just visited the doctor for the first time, because of Chavez’ laws.  Those will remember him forever.  Hugo Chavez was a bright star who gave hope to millions across the globe.  He gave us the strength to believe that we, the oppressed of the world, could one day be free.  He was often depicted in the Western media as a dictator (but then again, which progressist or revolutionary has ever been depicted otherwise in the western press?) because of his frankness and clear fight for the interest of the Venezuelan people. Chavez was a true sincere politician and loyal to his people.

El Comandante de la Revolucion, Hugo Chavez
El Comandante de la Revolucion, Hugo Chavez

El Comandante used to say: “Let the dogs of the empire bark, that’s their job. Our job is to fight to achieve the true liberation of our people.” You (Chavez) gone, who will fight again for us? who will voice our opinions? who will lead us? We have to keep true to your ideals, and keep our head up.  Thank you Commandante, for showing us the way, for showing us beauty and hope in this world.

Hugo Chavez also said: “Love is the combustible of a revolution.” El Comandante gave us just that: love, hope, dignity, and peace. So long, brother. Like Franklin Boukaka said “your work is that of humanity“… you have now joined the greats of this world: Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Kwame Nkrumah, Mouammar Kadhafi, Amilcar Cabral, … Long live to your ideals!

Please enjoy this video “The revolution will not be televised” which shows the coup fomented by the US against Hugo Chavez in 2002 where Chavez was removed from power by American military; and for the first time in world history, a president was brought back to power by his people who refused to give into American threats. The people defeated the machine! This documentary was made possible because of the presence of some European journalists from Arte who were in the country at the moment of the coup.

How long shall they kill our prophets…?

Bob Marley
Bob Marley

How long shall they kill our prophets…?” as Bob Marley said, “… while we stand aside and look?”Sir Bob Marley said it all: How long shall we let these conquerors beat us down? bombard us? kill our prophets? What were Lumumba, Sankara, Cabral, Um Nyobé, Ouandié, Khadafi, Ben Barka, or Gbagbo’s sins? To love their country: to want to save their countries from western greed. What were we doing when they were all killed? Why on earth are we, Africans, just looking (and sometimes applauding) while some countries, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, and now Mali are being bombed? Why and how long are we going to look while our prophets are being killed?

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l’Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884

I just heard of Charles Blé Goudé being arrested. My heart is broken as I hear some Africans applaud… yes my heart is shattered when I hear people say “oh he deserved it.” Deserved what? Deserve being beaten to death because he stood up for his country while external forces were invading it? Deserve being humiliated because he dared walk out in the streets of Abidjan bare-handed to fight external forces, because he brought the youth together, because he woke Ivorians and Africans to their rights to respect, independence, and fairness? Yes… as Sir Marley said: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery [slavery of the mind; slavery mentality: ignorant mentality]”… “Have no fear for atomic energy.” Some African head of states said when Côte d’Ivoire and Libya were being bombed ” It is better not to say anything; we will just agree with these westerners otherwise they will bomb us too!” now peaceful Mali is under attack; peaceful and desertic Mali is being bombed. Which other peaceful African country will be next? It is better to rise, save our prophets, and talk… than to drink the milk of cowardice, fear, treachery, and ignorance. Have no fear for atomic energy, just stand against injustice… that is way better than treachery or the cancer of betrayal as Amilcar Cabral called it.  Enjoy Sir Marley, and remember that the milk of cowardice never saved our ancestors, and will never save us; our ancestors thought that they were sparing themselves from harm, but 50, 100, 500 years later their children are still fighting the battles they should have fought in the first place.  History repeats itself… are we still going to stand aside while our prophets are being killed? are we going to fear atomic energy, and run as cowards? No matter how far we run, or how much we hide, they are coming for us… we might have seeming peace for 20 years, but our children will still have to fight our battles!

Mehdi Ben Barka: Moroccan Light, African Leader, and World Revolutionary

Mehdi Ben Barka
Mehdi Ben Barka

After “Les Immortels” by Franklin Boukaka, it is only normal that I would talk about Mehdi Ben Barka himself, and why he brought so much hope to people in Morocco, Africa, and the entire world.  Yes, his work encompassed all the oppressed people of the globe.

Mehdi Ben Barka was a Moroccan politician born in January of 1920 in Rabat, Morocco.  Although from a middle class background, Ben Barka was among the first to attend the French school (which was mostly for rich people), as he was always the best and brightest in his class.  He was the first Moroccan to receive a degree in mathematics in an official French school in 1950.  He then taught mathematics in a local Lycée (high school), and at the Royal College, where young Hassan II was one of his students.  Working in parallel, Mehdi got involved in politics, and worked to challenge the French “Protectorate” on Morocco.  In 1943, he got involved in the creation of the National Istiqlal Party.  In 1955, Mehdi took part in negociations which culminated with the return of Sultan Mohammed V, who had been exiled by the French authorities to Madagascar.  In 1956, Ben Barka’s other negociations culminated with the end of the French protectorate on Morocco.  From 1956 to 1959, Mehdi Ben Barka was president of the consultative assembly of Morocco.  In 1959, Mehdi broke off from the National Istiqlal Party after clashes with conservative opponents, and found l’Union Nationale des Forces Populaires – National Union of Popular Forces (UNPF).

King Hassan II
King Hassan II

The future King Hassan II, then chief of the army, wanting to inherit his father’s trone as soon as possible, called for repression against subversion, against any opposition in the land.  This forced Ben Barka to go on exile in Paris, as Ben Barka was King Hassan II’s principal opponent.  After King Mohammed V’s death in 1961, Hassan II ascended to the throne, and claimed to want to make peace with his main opponent.  Ben Barka returned from exile in May 1962.  On 16 November 1962, Mehdi escaped an attack on his life (car accident, where his car was forced into a ravine by a police car), which had been fomented by the services of General Mohamed Oufkir and colonel Ahmed Dlimi.  In June of 1963, Ben Barka was accused of plotting against the monarchy, and once again forced into exile; this was plot by King Hassan II, to dissolve the UNFP, the main opposition to his reign.  On 22 November 1963, Ben Barka is sentenced to death in absentia, for conspiracy and attempt to assassinate the king.  Some think that this was also caused by Ben Barka’s calling upon Moroccan soldiers to refuse to fight Algeria in the 1963 Sand War.  Ben Barka first went on exile in Algiers, Algeria, where he met with Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, and Malcolm X.  Then he went to Cairo, Rome, Geneva (where he escaped several attacks on his life), and Havana, trying to unite the revolutionary movements of the Third World for the Tricontinental Conference to be held in January 1966 in Havana.  As the leader of the Tricontinental, Ben Barka was seen as a major figure in the Third World movement, and supported revolutionary, and anti-colonial actions in various states, thus provoking the anger of the United States and France.  Just before his death, he was preparing the first Tricontinental Conference scheduled to take place in Havana, Cuba, from 3 -13 January 1966.

Mehdi Ben Barka during an address
Mehdi Ben Barka during an address

On October 29, 1965, Mehdi Ben Barka was abducted (“disappeared”)  in Paris by French police officers.  He was never to be seen again.  On Dec. 29, 1975, Time magazine published an article called “The Murder of Mehdi Ben Barka”, stating that three Moroccan agents were responsible for the death of Ben Barka, one of them former Interior Minister Mohammed Oufkir.  Speculation persists as to CIA involvement.  French intelligence agents and the Israeli Mossad were also involved, according to the article.  Many believe that the abduction and removal of Mehdi Ben Barka on that cold day of October 29, 1965, was to give a blow to the impetus of the Tricontinental Conference,which was going to have effects on liberation movements across the globe, and thus hurt imperialist powers (US, France, UK, Portugal, Spain…).

Indeed Mehdi Ben Barka was a true hero, some refer to him as the Moroccan Che Guevara…  To many, he was hope itself… His charisma, and his work went beyond Morocco’s borders and blessed the entire globe, countries which were oppressed by imperialist powers and which over 50 years later are still suffering from neo-colonialism, and ferocious capitalism/imperialism.  You can read more on how the French government is still stalling on the “Ben Barka affair” at the Guardian, and check out this interview of Bachir Ben Barka, Mehdi’s son, who was aged 15 at the time of his father’s abduction.  Watch this really good documentary below which details the life of Mehdi Ben Barka.  50 years after his disappearance, the “Ben Barka affair” still remains an open dossier.  One can only sing, like Franklin Boukaka, ‘Mehdi nzela na yo na bato nyonso’ … Mehdi your work is that of humanity! So long brother, your work and vision will keep guiding us. ‘Oh O Mehdi Ben Barka, Mehdi nzela na yo na bato nyonso.’

“Les Immortels” de Franklin Boukaka, les lyriques

Franklin Boukaka

Ici sont les lyriques de la chanson “Les Immortels” de Franklin Boukaka.  Lorsqu’on lit ces paroles, on se dit “quelle beauté! Quelle grandeur, quel amour de l’Afrique!”

Africa mobimba e  … L’Afrique toute entière 

Tokangi maboko e  … A croisé les bras

Tozali kotala e      … Nous observons impuissants 

Bana basili na kokendeLa perte de ses enfants

Bana basili na kotekama eLe trafic de ses enfants

Na banguna a ……………… Auprès des ennemis

Tolati mokuya ata maloba teSilencieux, nous avons porté un voile noir de deuil 

Congo na bana Africa baleli  … Le Congo et l’Afrique fondent en larmes                                                           (2X)

Oh O Mehdi Ben Barka  … Oh ! Mehdi Ben Barka   

Pour le reste cliquer sur: “Les Immortels” de Franklin Boukaka

For the English version, click on: “The Immortals” of Franklin Boukaka

Résistance Africaine: “Les Immortels” de Franklin Boukaka / African Struggle: “Les Immortels” from Franklin Boukaka

Franklin Boukaka
Franklin Boukaka

Les Immortels” is a song written and composed by Franklin Boukaka, the great Congolese singer, to honor the great Moroccan leader Mehdi Ben Barka, African resistants, and world revolutionaries.  Franklin Boukaka was a singer ahead of his time who loved his country, and had a passion for liberty.  Franklin Boukaka was a freedom fighter, poet, composer, activist, and fought for African independence both politically, but above all by his great songs which today are still sung across Africa (you all have probably heard of “Aye Africa“).  Born into music on 10 October 1940, with musician parents, he was murdered during the coup that deposed Ange Diawara during the night of 23-24 February 1972.  His greatest album was “Le Bucheron” realized with Manu Dibango, which contains “Les Immortels.” With all that is happening in Africa, with the coup against Laurent Gbagbo in Côte d’Ivoire, the crush of Libya and the guide of the revolution Mouammar Khadafi, and with the destruction of Mali, “Les Immortels” is still of actuality.  Enjoy!