humanitarian, expounding the same concern for human rights as President Carter.
Kaunda visited the U.S. around a year ago
and got a fairly good reception. I
gathered this doesn't always happen with
black African leaders. They often feel
we treat them as second class citizens
and the facts often bear this out.
S.B.B.: Could you give me some background on Zambia?
A.N.: Zambia had been a non-aligned
country, generally taking the human
rights stand of the United States. It was
formerly Northern Rhodesia, and went
through a struggle similar to what is happening in Zimbabwe.
President Kaunda led the armed struggle and was imprisoned by the British.
After Zambia gained its independence,
it lent its support to the liberation movements in Mozambique, South Africa and
Zimbabwe. As a consequence, Zambia
has become a target of South African
troups who come into Zambia at will.
South Africa claims Zambia harbors
terrorists and that is the excuse they use
for coming into Zambia.
South Africa also supported
Rhodesian forces which bombed Zambia
on a regular basis for about a year.
Rhodesian helicopters even entered the
Zambian capital and Zambia had no defense weapons against the Rhodesian
Both Britain and the U.S. refused to
sell Zambia weapons. In desperation,
Zambia turned to Russia. By signing
away many of its copper rights for
many years to come, Zambia was able to
buy 21 MIG jets.
I got into a heated argument with an
American official. He said Zambia
shouldn't have bought the weapons from
Russia. I asked him why we didn't sell
them the weapons. He said it was simple:
President Carter would have, but knew
the arms sale wouldn't be approved by
Congress because the weapons would
have been used for one purpose only—
to shoot white folks.
South Africa operates on a system
based on inhuman practices known world
wide. Yet, South Africa has had no
trouble arming itself or getting anything
it needs. Sanctions have not meant anything because most countries ignore
them. It's meaningless if you say we're
not going to sell them weapons, when
you've already given them the technology
to make their own weapons. The U.S.
may not be selling certain goods to South
Africa, but the other "free-world" countries are. To be fair, you have to acknowledge that a lot of black African countries
now trade with South Africa. For many
of them, it's a matter of survival.
During our visit to Zambia, we met
with President Kaunda for three hours.
We raised the arms question and he said:
If black countries are forced to turn to
the Soviet Union, Communist China
or Cuba for weapons, it usually means
the Africans will go into the supplying
countries to learn how to use the
weapons. The trainees then become
immersed in socialist ideology. Inevitably, they spread it around when they
return. For instance, Robert Mugabe,
the new prime minister of Zimbabwe,
is condemned by the west for his Marxism. South Africa is alarmed that he won
a free election. If he has to get weapons
from Marxist countries, how can we condemn him for supporting their philosophy?
In Zaire, we support President
Mobutu, a military dictator known to be
a brutal oppressor of his own people.
We've cut back our military support, but
we still support him.
S.B.B.: Why aren't black Americans
lobbyists for black Africa?
A.N.: It's been hammered into us to get
into the American mainstream. We relate to the Queen of England before we
do to Chief Shaka. To do that you have
to reject where you come from. We're
Outside a country school in the Congo.
also ashamed of how we came, as involuntary immigrants and we don't want
to be reminded that we came as slaves.
Others talk about English or German or
French blood but we don't want to talk
about African blood. We need to accept
our African blood.
S.B.B.: Do you foresee that changing?
What, if any, is the relationship between
black America and black Africa?
A.N.: Potentially, it could be great.
Realistically, I think it won't be realized
for a long time, if ever.
We've resisted a positive effort because
we're still brainwashed about Africans.
Sure, we've gone through a period where
people talk about finding their roots,
going back to Africa, Black is Beautiful
and all that.
S.B.B.: What prevents a good relationship
between the two?
A.N.: You can see it locally. I appeared
on Charles Porter's Front and Center
on KYOK radio. A Nigerian called in
and said he was disappointed. He's been
here for some time, and has been treated
miserably by black Americans. If people
don't act like us, we assume they don't
like us or assume they think they're
better then we are. We don't make any
allowances for cultural differences. We're
automatically defensive. That has been
one roadblock to better relations between black Americans and black Africans.
It's a problem which can't be dismissed. One I hope will be resolved
through more exposure on both sides:
with more black Americans visiting black
African countries. And with more black
Africans coming to the country, which
they are doing in great numbers.
S.B.B.: What was your most memorable
moment of the trip, and your lowest
A.N.: One of the most memorable
moments was when I met President
Kaunda. I was struck by his sincerity,
his warmth and the true humanitarian
feelings he expressed and by the deep
hurt caused by the United States in their
treatment of him. He was just a human
The low point was probably Zimbabwe, although I'm tempted to say it
was South Africa. The stopover at the
airport said enough about what the rest
of the country must be like. It was very
depressing. I couldn't go through the
airport without thinking of all that was
happening there. I couldn't spend time
in Zimbabwe or Zambia without constantly relating it to what is happening
in South Africa. South Africa is the next
battleground. If the whites don't see the
handwriting on the wall, and start dismantling the barriers so all people can
have their basic human rights, there is
going to be a bloodbath, unrivaled by
anywhere else. I'm fearful of that.
Kenya was our rest and relaxation,
but even there you couldn't get away
from racism. There are a lot of tourists
there. We were constantly running into
tours from the United States, Japan and
all over Europe. We would hear conversations, and I began to feel that many of
the tourists, many of the white folks,
were there to see the scenery, to see
Mt. Kilamanjaro, to take pictures of
the animals, but would just as soon not
have the people there.
That's sobering. The thing that strikes
me is all the racism in this world. It is
alive and thriving.
I think black Americans tend to be
lulled into a sense of complacency, to
believe it's not as bad as it used to be.
But if we can step back and look, racism