Many world leaders mounted the speakers’ platform during the recent high-level general debate week of the 78th United Nations General Assembly. However, the tone of some African leaders was eye-opening and worth noting. The annual UNGA 78 gathering at UN headquarters in New York City is where the majority of member states give their input on pressing global issues. The sessions occurred September 19-23.
While some African leaders’ clout chased for closer ties to major powers like the United States, others used the occasion to deliver real talk. These leaders called for self-determination, a reset of the global power equation concerning Africa, and brought uncompromising, unbought, no-retreat messages about a new Africa and a wave of growing resistance. Some unequivocally condemned a legacy of global power plays that disadvantaged Africa and brought the world to the precipice of perilous ruin.
“Within this calamitous global reality, the African continent has been, and remains, marginalized; compelled, as it is, to shoulder the brunt of these destructive policies,” said Osman Saleh, foreign minister of Eritrea. “It must be recognized that the resistance movements unfolding in Africa … are expressions and continuation of the struggle against colonialism,” Mr. Saleh explained. “They are defiant reactions to ‘modern slavery,’ unremitting plunder, and domination,” he added.
Recently the continent has experienced multiple power grabs that observers and leaders say are reactions to foreign meddling and exploitation. Several of the nations with new interim governments such as Gabon, Mali, Guinea-Conakry, and Burkina Faso addressed the General Assembly.
The interim government in Niger, which came to power in a July overthrow of its Western-backed president, was not credentialed to attend. They accused UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the regional Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS) of deliberate interference to appease France, its former colonizer.
Another speaker, Bassolma Bazie, Minister of State and of Civil Service for Burkina Faso, took the Western world to task for its record of bloodshed, exploitation, and pilfering of the continent.
“My presence at this august podium before the UN on behalf of Burkina Faso, a country of upstanding men, is not to beat my breast in lamentation, and I am not here either to make a flowery speech,” said Mr. Bazie. “I was sent here to tell you that the lies of States, diplomatic hypocrisy … thirst for power … frenetic quest for profit … diabolical spirit of domination, exploitation of man by man: These are the true wounds that poison our coexistence, and drive all societies toward perdition, including our organization, the UN,” he said.
Mr. Bazie paid homage to leaders who were conspired against for advancing the plight of the oppressed and those who were violently executed, assassinated and jailed for personifying the legitimate aspirations of their people. He lifted names like Fidel Castro of Cuba and Che Guevara of Argentina; Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X of the USA; Patrice Lumumba, of the Congo; Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Amical Cabral of Guinea Bissau; and Cabo Verde and Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso among others.
“Their only crime in each case was embodying the dreams, ambitions, and hopes of peoples that had been killed, raped, trampled and pillaged,” added Mr. Baizie.
He was representing Burkina Faso’s 34-year-old interim president Ibrahim Traore, who came to power in a September 2022 coup d’état. Mr. Traore is widely touted as the “second Sankara” referring to Thomas Sankara, the Pan-African leader who led the country from 1983 until his assassination in 1987.
Mr. Baize challenged African leaders to reconcile with their “identity and culture” to address colonialism’s lasting impact. He reasoned that the UN’s inefficiency and lack of sincerity in addressing global issues, particularly in Africa, has led to coup d’états and the need for countries to take their destiny into their own hands.
Mr. Baize lambasted the West for bringing military forces to Africa under the guise of promoting “democracy” and “human rights,” while ignoring the continent’s right to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said after a decades-long presence of a large UN peacekeeping mission, his country will by year’s end take full control of its destiny and become the primary actor in its own stability, he told the General Assembly.
“It’s time for our country to take its destiny fully in hand,” President Tshisekedi said on Sept. 21.
For nearly 30 years brutal war plagued eastern DRC fueled by geopolitics, ethnic and national contention, and competition for control of abundant natural resources.
Observers and analysts said times are evolving on the continent. “I’ve noticed this last year, and even two years before that,” political analyst and editor of Pan-Africa News Wire Abayomi Azikiwe told The Final Call in a telephone interview. “There is a renewed rhetoric at least, in terms of genuine sovereignty, independence, non-alignment,” he added.
The change could be heard in the African voiceprint, for example, regarding the Russia-Ukraine war where African leaders are demanding a diplomatic solution. A position that starkly contrasts U.S. President Joe Biden, who used UNGA 78 to push an old “cold war position and approach” criticizing what he called Russian aggression.
“He seems to suggest that the United States is really not interested in a diplomatic solution … which is extremely dangerous,” said Mr. Azikiwe.
Other leaders like South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa challenged the “Global North” inequitable arrangement with the “Global South” and raised the plight of women. He traveled to UNGA 78 with an all-women delegation.
“It should be a matter of concern to us all that the majority of people who are sitting in this assembly are men,” said President Ramaphosa. “The question we have to ask: Where are the women of the world … women of the world have a right to be here to represent the views of women,” he said.
Mr. Ramaphosa also chided wealthy industrialized nations for paying the billions of dollars they committed to Africa to mitigate what many are calling climate injustice. Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world, he noted. Africa is least responsible for climate damage caused by the industrial world but bears the greatest burden.
He argued centuries after the slave trade, decades after colonial exploitation of Africa’s resources, Africans still bear the cost of the industrialization and development of the wealthy nations. “This is a price that the people of Africa are no longer prepared to pay,” said Mr. Ramaphosa. “The wealth of Africa belongs to Africans, the mineral wealth that is beneath the soil of Africa must be accrued to Africans.”
Africa watchers say the growing pushback by African leaders is consistent with a series of moves on the continent and worldwide. Anti-West sentiment led to the expelling of France from some of its former colonies across the African Sahel.
Recently, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger inked a “one for all and all for one” defense pact to aid each other in the event of a military attack against any one of them. The Liptako-Gourma Charter was signed by military heads on Sept. 16 and formerly created the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).
The posture of African leaders also coincides with shifts like the expansion of the BRICS bloc of nations made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, opening for wider membership and economic independence. Other international organizations like the Group of 77 are actively organizing around an anti-imperialist wave. Collectively, these groupings represent 80 percent of the world’s population. Observers note these events indicate a season of change has arrived.
“What we’re looking at,” said Mr. Azikiwe, “even though I don’t see it happening overnight, we do see the emergence of—for use of a better term—a new world order,” he said. “I think that it does indicate a new awakening on the part of Africa and the entire Global South,” he added.
The progressive stance of African leaders was weaved together by a common thread. Despite the legacy of exploitation, colonialism, and subjugation, the challenges of conflict and instability, Africa is determined to regain its position as the point for progress and African development.
The revived spirit of African leaders reminds of warnings to the exploiting powers by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. Representing his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan has warned about a time when the tides would change for wicked rule.
“When a messenger or a warner comes, he comes to warn you about something of great consequence that will ill-affect you if you don’t change your way,” said Minister Farrakhan in special remarks to the United Kingdom in December 2002.
In words that still ring true today, the Minister warned about a time when the evil of the exploiting powers will be paid back. “Britain has had her way all over the world. Europe has had her way. America now is at the pinnacle of power and influence over the nations of the earth. But is England righteous? Is America righteous?” said Minister Farrakhan.
“Whenever nations have deviated from the path of God there is a consequence for that deviation. You can’t enslave a whole people and there is not a consequence,” he reasoned. “You can’t make war all over the earth and destroy people at will and there’s not a consequence,” cautioned Minister Farrakhan.