In recent news, there have been reports of a former CIA spy-turned whistleblower, confirming the role of the U.S. in the South African apartheid struggle as well as his personal role in the 1962 arrest of Nelson Mandela that resulted in his 27-year imprisonment. In South Africa, under a colonial regime, Nelson Mandela fought against Dutch and British colonial settlers in efforts to gain independence for the native South African people. South Africa didn’t gain independence until 1994, after which Mandela was named the first president of the country, and subsequently became an international symbol for the fight against racism and oppressive colonial governments.
Central to Mandela’s philosophy was the belief that South Africans should be allowed the opportunity to govern themselves as a politically autonomous group. Mandela’s call for the self-determination of South African people mimicked the anti-colonial rhetoric spouted by other continental African political leaders like Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) and Patrice Lumumba (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Similar to the struggles for independence faced in African countries, many native people who inhabited the American continents before colonial invasion and genocide echoed the need to be liberated from colonial settler rule. The U.S. government’s role in aiding the suppression of South African anti-apartheid movements while also existing as a settler-colonial nation cannot be overlooked.
Discovering the United States’ role in the imprisoning of Nelson Mandela causes me to look toward the various African-American political voices that had been silenced through either imprisonment or murder orchestrated by U.S. government institutions. People such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Dr. Huey P. Newton, and Fred Hampton. With the FBI outright stating one of its goals is to “Prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement” in the infamous counter intelligence program documents. It isn’t far fetched to believe that the U.S. would aid in the suppression of black nationalist figures world wide.
Continuing to exist as a settler colonial nation– whoseCivil War was a dispute over the destiny of enslaved people– there is no doubt that the United States of America has an ugly history of denying the right of self-determination. A complex matter that effects all minority groups, descendants of the original inhabitants of the North American continent are still subject to the policies, regulations, and laws created by the colonial regime. The denial of self-determination for politically autonomous ethnic and racial groups is a violation of human rights that should not be taken lightly.
In part two of this series I will further discuss the denial of self-determination for Native-American people. Aiming to shed light on human rights as the key to understanding the problems of colonized people in the United States. I hope that my readers will stay tuned!