About Author

My name is Masilo Lepuru. I am an African-centred researcher and a Pan-African thinker. I am interested in African philosophy, history and literature. My writings are influenced by Garveyism and its pursuit of a race-first Pan-African revolution to create a new African world order. I am also interested in the study of South African history and political thought such as the Black Consciousness of Biko and Pan-Africanism of the likes of Sobukwe. However by biggest interest lies in the political philosophy of Anton Lembede. Lembede's Africanism is my passionate philosophical interest at the moment.v

Notes on the Azanian Tradition Today: Towards the restoration of Lembede’s Africa for the Africans.

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The hegemony of the Congress tradition in the so-called post-Apartheid South Africa as inscribed in the final constitution of 1996 has led to a vigorous critique from the quarters of the Azanian tradition. As a result of this the war in the ideological domain is centered around these two traditions born of the struggle against white supremacy in the so-called South Africa. While the Azanian tradition has scored a couple of victories, it still has a long way to win the war. The Congress tradition on the other hand is leading in this war due to its long history and association with South African liberalism at least since the birth of white settler constitutionalism in 1853 in the so-called Cape. In this brief essay we will attempt to trace the origin and nature of what we designate African liberalism and contrast it with the Africanism of Lembede. We will then conclude by assessing the merits of the Azanian tradition today. We now turn to an archeology of Africanism and African liberalism in “South Africa”.

The great Cheik Anta Diop has provided us with a methodological counsel which we will heed in this essay. In analyzing the history and consciousness of Africa and Africans we must by default as it were, commence with ancient Kemet. The scholarship of the likes of Jacob Carruthers in Intellectual Warfare, Vulindlela Wobogo in Cosmic Journey and Josef Ben-Johannan Blackman of the Nile and his Family makes it that in ancient Kemet there was a common sentiment of detesting alien races with a lighter skin. It is in this sense that we can trace the African sentiment of Africa for the Africans which was epitomized by Lembede’s Africanism. The rule of Thutmoses iii which was consummated by Rameses ii was an embodiment of this sentiment of Africa for the Africans. It was during these dynasties that the non-Africans called the Hyksos were expelled from ancient Kemet. Thus, the expulsion thesis which characterizes Africanism has ancient roots and solid foundation as epitomized by some of our brightest and far-seeing leaders. Of course, the Africa for the Africans did not end in ancient Kemet. The Africans who were the first victims of the Maafa as they were enslaved and kidnapped by non-Africans called Eurasians. While in the Diaspora these Africans attempted to reproduce Africa by forming what is now called marron communities. Fundamental to the logic of marronage was the total rejection of whiteness and its corrupting barbarian brutalities and violence. Any form of proximity to whiteness was dismissed as an anathema to these proud Africans who wanted to be among themselves after being uprooted from their Africa. This sentiment of Africa for the Africans was continued by the so-called back to Africa movement. The race men and women who propagated this sentiment in the Diaspora include the likes of Edward Blyden, Henry McNeal Turner, Martin Delany, and Marcus Garvey who took it to its highest level through the Garvey movement which galvanized this sentiment in the Africans on the continent. Fundamental to this sentiment and its evolution in the movement of the history of Africa and Africans is what we designate African pessimism. By African pessimism as opposed to Afro-pessimism, we imply the uncompromising rejection of any filial coexistence with the Eurasians as the everlasting enemies of the Africans since their first encounter in ancient Kemet. The Eurasians especially the Europeans are regarded as the irredeemable and implacable enemies of the Africans to paraphrase Chancellor Williams in The Destruction of Black Civilization. The originary encounter which set the eternal tone and stage in ancient Kemet made it clear that the relation between Africans and Eurasians as non-Africans is one of a race war. It is only Africans who are embedded in what we designate African optimism who fail or refuse to acknowledge the race war situation. By African optimism we imply the confused streak among certain Africans especially under the spell of Yurugu consciousness who accept and promote filial coexistence with Eurasians. They pursue this filial coexistence either by seeking to be integrated by the Eurasians on their terms or they want to integrate these Eurasian on their own terms.

African optimism in the so-called South Africa underlies the origin of African liberalism. The birth of African liberalism in “South Africa” can be traced to missionary training, christianity and constitutionalism in the 18th century. These three variables are at the core of the white settler sphere and the terms of order of white settler colonialism. The civilized natives as amakholwa are the pioneers of African liberalism. The so-called friends of the natives are the original mentors of this African liberalism. It is important to note that African liberalism is not homogenous despite its common origin as stated above. Within this broader African liberalism there is the moderate tradition and the radical tradition. This division within African liberalism reached its summit in the 1950s. This summit was dramatized by figures such as Albert Luthuli and Robert Sobukwe resulting in the Congress tradition, a moderate version of African liberalism and the Azanian tradition, a radical version of African liberalism. The ANC and the PAC embodied organizational forms of these versions of African liberalism. While it is easy to trace the origin of the moderate tradition of African liberalism to the pioneering civilized natives such as John Dube and Co, the origin of the radical tradition of African liberalism is a bit nuanced. The sentiment of Africa for the Africans and explained above, is located in the native sphere. This is how when can trace its indigenous roots. The native sphere is the cultural and historical domain of thought of the Africans which comprises of their ancient wisdom and their experience and encounter with non-Africans. This native sphere and the sentiment of Africa for the Africans was spearheaded by Amaqaba as opposed to amakholwa who belong to the white settler sphere. Mazisi Kunene in Shaka Emperor does a brilliant job in archiving the native sphere and the sentiment of African for the Africans which he acquired as a result of immersion in the oral tradition at the feet of his father who was an oral historian of note. The reduction of the non-Africans especially the white settlers who called the “white strangers and the pumpkin race”, to zoological terms such as ants and insects captures the ancient oral wisdom of the native sphere. Umgobozi who during a council meeting proposed that these white strangers be eliminated captures brilliantly African pessimism and the sentiment of African for the Africans and testifies to its indigenous roots. By the time the Garvey movement reaches its ascendency in the early 1900s in the so-called South Africa, it merely galvanized something that has its own indigenous roots. The galvanizing of an indigenous tradition explains the scintillating success of the Garvey movement in “South Africa”. Nongqawuse before had already pushed the logic of Africa for the Africans to logical extreme conclusion without a major success. Wellington Buthelezi and Enoch Mgijima continued with this sentiment of Africa for the Africans. It is in this sense that we can trace the makings of Africanism which was epitomized by Lembede in the 1940s before his untimely death. This death marks the decline of Africanism as Lembede embodied it. The decline was facilitated by his close friend A P Mda. Mda facilitated this decline through his ideological ascendency following the untimely death of Lembede. Mda who famously disagreed with the ideological extremism of Lembede without being able to tame him successfully, began an ideological tradition which is embodied by the Azanian tradition today. Mda made the dangerous and poisonous distinction between “narrow nationalism” he associated with the now dead Lembede and “narrow nationalism” which he embodied and propagated among the youth of his generation such as Robert Sobukwe. This marks the origin of the uncompromising sentiment of Africa for the Africans and its diluted version courtesy of “broad nationalism” which dominated within the Azanian tradition as founded by Sobukwe which is still promoted today. This diluted “compromising Africa for the Africans” was and is still embodied in the African tree metaphor of Sobukwe and the table of Biko which are at the core of the Azanian tradition today. The dangerous consequences of this ideological mess courtesy of Mda and Co is drastic shift from the emphasis of race groups and their interests to individuals and their rights. While Lembede regarded Africans as a race group with its unique spirit which non-Africans can never possess, Sobukwe under the influence of Mda opted to reject race groups framework and to work within the one human race and individual rights paradigm. This led to the political vision of integrating abelungu after converting them to Abantu and coexisting with them on the terms of the Africans post white supremacy of course. This political vision was propagated by Sobukwe and Biko in the above-mentioned African tree and table metaphors which are still dominant in the Azanian tradition today. This conversion thesis of the Azanian tradition would of course been an anathema to Lembede who was clear about the unique character of the African race. Lembede’s fundamental and antagonistic ontological distinction between the Africans and non-Africans, Europeans and non-Europeans reflected his uncompromising sentiment of Africa for the Africans which the Azanian tradition has betrayed to this day. While we will still develop our analysis further, this in a nutshell is the fundamental difference between the Africanism of Lembede and the Azanian tradition. It is in this sense that we posit that while Lembede is an acknowledged figure within the Azanian tradition, he must be excluded from the Azanian tradition and be located and confined within a parallel tradition which he embodied, namely Africanism. This is because the difference between Africanism and the Azanian tradition is too fundamental. Their respective genealogies, social ontologies and political visions are fundamentally dissimilar to be reconciled. Africanism is founded on the uncompromising sentiment of Africa for the Africans since ancient Kemet and its African pessimism, its social ontology is one of race groups and interests and finally its political vision is one of Africa by the African race across the globe and solely for this Africa race. In other words, it political vision is based on what Tony Martin calls a Race-first ideology. The genealogy of the Azanian tradition as a version of radical African liberalism is traceable to the coming of the Europeans in “South Africa”, their christianity, missionary indoctrination and liberal humanism and its social ontology of the one human race, individuals, and their rights and finally the political vision of the integration of white settlers through their conversion from abelungu to Abantu post white supremacy. What are the revolutionary implications of this fundamental disparity between Africanism and the Azanian tradition? Our sense is that on the basis of Africanism all the non-Africans (the people on the soil) in Africa in general will have to be expelled in a revolutionary war to restore Africa completely to its rightful owners (the people of the soil), the revolutionary violence is necessary to avenge the spirit of the living-dead and to restore the integrity and spiritual well-being of the living Africans today. Thus, while Africanism expels, the Azanian tradition converts and integrates. It is in this sense that we hold a low opinion of the Azanian tradition as far as dealing with the non-African question/white settler question is concerned. The fundamental defect of the Azanian tradition which accounts for its radical liberalism and legalism in focusing its attention on constitutionalism is the absence of a culture critique. The absence of Diop’s two cradle theory, Dogon philosophy and Ani’s cultural asili analysis makes the Azanian tradition to pursue the misguide vision of converting and integrated what Ayi Kwei Armah in Two Thousand Seasons calls the predators and destroyers. A fatal form of “naïve generosity” indeed which also accounts for the conquest of Africa and the Africans since the disastrous coming of the Eurasians. It is only Africanism with its ancient roots in ancient Kemet that accommodates the culture critique or what we can call the politics of culture. With Diop’s two cradle theory we can account for the barbarism of the Eurasians in terms of the northern cradle and its aggression and xenophobia thus anti-Africanism. In other words, we can account for the “ice-men and ice-women inheritance” ala Michael Bradley. The wisdom of our living-dead in the form of Dogon philosophy provides us with the intelligence to know that the whites that the Azanian tradition seeks to convert and integrate are nothing but Yurugu, a figure who is an incomplete being and irredeemably destructive thus Armah’s predators and destroyers. Converting and integrating them will only result in the continuation of another “two thousand seasons”. The cultural asili analysis of Marimba Ani counsels us regarding the desire and need for control and domination which underlies the asili of the culture of the Yurugu. Thus, seeking to convert and integrate post white supremacy when they will supposedly lack power and on the terms of the Africans is an exercise in naïve futility with predictable and dangerous results, among them the ultimate extermination of the African race. It is in this sense and for the sake of the African race that we break with Azanianism, its radical liberalism and naïve nonracialism. Its legalism in the form of the fundamental critique of the constitutionalism in general and the current final constitution is also something we seek to break with. While the legal critique is important at the level of the war of ideas and ideological hegemony ala Archie Mafeje in White liberals and Black nationalist, Strange bedfellows, we think that it is a misplaced critique. The reason is fundamentally that constitutionalism and the final constitutions are mere legal institutions of a race war and there are many others. The fundamental problem which is at the core of what we seek to introduce in terms of the War studies paradigm informed by Bobby Wright (rather than the just war and international law ethics of war), is that we need to shift our analysis from institutionalism to ontology. Institutions are the mere products of the beings at war with us, they will always proliferate as long as these beings who produce them are still among our midst. The shift from institutionalism to ontology is informed not only by the race war thesis of Bobby Wright but also by the Africanism’s idea that to be seriously anti-white supremacy one has to be anti-white. In other words, to deal effectively and once and for all with white supremacy one has to eliminate whites and not just attack their institutions. But even Lembede’s Africanism has to improved. This necessary improvement will take two forms, namely formulating the idea of Historical Garveyism and Radical Garveyism. The uncompromising sentiment of Africa for the Africans of Africanism pursues the expulsion thesis of all Eurasian from the continent, namely the Arabs, Indians, and Europeans and some of their Coloureds. The expulsion thesis was propagated by the Garvey movement and its suggestion of an African power-State which can guarantee and protect the lives of all Africans across the globe. It is currently reformulated by Chinweizu in the form of Neo-Garveyism as Black Power Pan-Africanism as opposed to the continental Pan-Africanism of Nkrumah which was based on his naïve acceptance of the presence of Eurasians as informed by his absurd triple heritage idea in Consciencesism. Chinweizu posits the industrialization route as suggested earlier by Cheik Anta Diop The Politics of a Federated State and already by Garvey in the Negro World. This is what we call Historical Garveyism as it fundamentally foregrounds the historical encounter between Africans and Eurasians as one of genocide, domination, and exploitation. This history suggest that only economic and military power can save the Africans form the Maafa inflicted by these Eurasians since time immemorial. While we agree with merits of Historical Garveyism we regarded it as merely a temporary first stage solution of the Maafa. The expulsion thesis as per the uncompromising sentiment of Africa for the Africans thus Eurasia for the Eurasians will not result in the African world order in terms of Maat in a post-Maafa era. This will only result in the balance of power as per Realism in international relations ala Morgenthau. By merely expelling the Eurasian we will not address the historic injustice of Maafa and prevent it from occurring to the yet-to-be-born. The constant shifts of the balance of power cannot guarantee the existence and prosperity of the African race. The defensive “imperialism and colonization” of the Eurasians by Rameses ii during the 19th dynasty is a good lesson in this regard. Historical Garveyism should be applied only to the Asians who do not have a historical record of Maafa against the African race provided that Radical Garveyism can be resorted to and applied to these Asians. In other words, while we can use Historical Garveyism with regard to the Chinese and Japanese for instance we should be ready to resort to Radical Garveyism when they plan or inflict Maafa on the African race. At the core of Radical Garveyism is the extermination thesis, all implacable enemies of the African race especially the Arabs and Europeans with a clear record of inflicting Maafa should be racially exterminated.

Things change drastically in the so-called South Africa when discard the radical liberalism and legalism of the Azanian tradition today and opt for Africanism with its Historical and Radical Garveyism complements. First of all, we will stop focusing our energies on the critique of the final constitution and constitutionalism in general but on the basis of the race war thesis and the anti-whiteness of Africanism we will eliminate whites by initially expelling them en masse to Europe in terms of Historical Garveyism and then once we restore African power, economically, culturally, and militarily we will then move on to Radical Garveyism and racially exterminate the Europeans while in Europe. The same thing will be done to the Arabs in North Africa. Secondly, we will in the spirit on the Pan-Africanism of Dessalines following the restoration of Haiti invite Africans to resettle on the continent by replacing our expelled and soon to be exterminate implacable enemies, namely the Eurasians. We will not “abolish” the final constitution but “abolish” white settlers whom it serves as they invented it as a “race war institution”. They will only be a Race-first integration of Africans ala Garvey’s Africa for the Africans those at home and abroad. And this is how we will lay the foundation for the “rebirth African civilization” post “the destruction of white barbarism in South Africa”, on the basis of an uncompromising Africa for the Africans and come full circle with its ancient roots in ancient Kemet, where it all began. This is how Lembede will live ideologically, after transcending the radical liberalism of the Azanian tradition today.

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