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From Elijah Muhammad to Louis Farrakhan, NOI influences Africa’s liberation struggle

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Oct 25, 2018 - 7:41:13 AM

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A little known fact is Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and his teacher, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, has influenced the African continent’s struggle and global liberation struggles.

A vision of African global and Diaspora unity was expressed and seen on each cover of the weekly Muhammad Speaks newspaper. With Black hands across the Atlantic, the publication, from 1961 until 1975, was the primary go to weekly for news of liberation struggles across the globe. The publication, at its height publishing a million copies weekly, became so popular that world leaders, including Dr. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and one of the founding members of the Organization of African Unity now called the African Union, became guest columnists. 

Min. Farrakhan joins the host of the African and African-American Summit, Philadelphia’s Rev. Leon Sullivan, at the podium during his address at the Okoumé Palace Hotel in Libreville, Gabon. Photo: Jehron Muhammad

This past September marked the 117th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Nkrumah. His birthday celebration which used to be called Founders Day has been renamed “Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day.” This was contained in 2017 legislation proposed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to Parliament.

While living in the United States, Nkrumah attended historically Black Lincoln University before finishing his studies in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.

Nkrumah once said, “Pan-Africanism has its beginnings in the liberation struggle of African-Americans, expressing the aspirations of Africans and peoples of African descent.”

The early pioneers of the Pan-African movement included such notables as H. Sylvester Williams, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, and George Padmore. In more recent history you have Philadelphia’s Rev. Leon Sullivan, with his African and African-American Summits, all on the African continent, and Min. Farrakhan with his “World Friendship Tour,” his relationship with Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi and his leading over 2,000 Blacks to Ghana for the Nation of Islam’s first International Saviours’ Day Convention. Then President Jerry John Rawlings opened and closed the convention. 

What historically brought incredible global awareness to African and liberation struggles around the world was Nation of Islam’s weekly Muhammad Speaks. By 1964, Muhammad Speaks, writes Karl Evanzz in his 1992 book, The Judas Factor, “had surpassed Marcus Garvey’s defunct Negro World as the most important publication ever produced in the West by people of African descent.”

It was Muhammad Speaks, with Elijah Muhammad as its publisher, that purchased its own printing plant, which introduced Du Bois, who had moved to Africa, to a “new generation of Blacks by highlighting his work as editor-in-chief of Ghana’s Encyclopedia Africana.”

If Muhammad Speaks was the organ that brought awareness to global liberation struggles, Min. Farrakhan’s oratorical skills, and his many travels to Africa, helped define and synthesize the latest iteration of continuing struggle. His message to Africans and those in the Diaspora have spread substantially by live streaming on the internet and via His messages, including his recent annual commemoration of the Million Man March speech which had nearly two million views, have focused on unity, economic and political strength with a spiritual base as the way forward and way to survive.

In 1996, Min. Farrakhan put an exclamation point on being the Western Hemisphere’s leading voice for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora. During an interview with 60 Minutes host Mike Wallace, who questioned him about a trip to Nigeria with the newsman calling Nigeria the “most corrupt nation in the world,” Farrakhan took him to task.

“Fine! So what! Thirty five years old, that’s what that nation (Nigeria) is. Here’s America 226 years old. You love democracy, but there in Africa you’re trying to force these people into a system of government you’ve just accepted. (Only) Thirty years ago Black folks got the right to vote. You should be quiet, and let those of us who know our people go there and help them get out of that condition. But America should keep her mouth shut. Wherever there’s a corrupt regime, and as much hell as America has raised on the earth … . No, I will not allow America or you, Mister Wallace, to condemn them as the most corrupt nation on the earth when you have spilled the blood of human beings. Has Nigeria dropped an atomic bomb and killed people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Have they killed millions of Native Americans? How dare you put yourself in that position as a moral judge. I think you should keep quiet, because with that much blood on American hands you have no right to speak.”

In 1993, during a meeting at his church in Philadelphia, Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, the creator of the Sullivan Principles developed in 1977 to apply economic pressure on South Africa’s apartheid regime, invited, through this writer, Min. Farrakhan to speak in Gabon at the bi-annual African and African-American Summit. Speaking in Gabon to 19 African heads of state, and to just about every significant African American civil rights leader, including Coretta Scott King, Dr. Dorothy Height, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Joseph Lowery, Dick Gregory, and others, Farrakhan summed the only way toward a total and complete “freedom” is in  synthesizing religion and cultural practices.

Min. Farrakhan, known to be as comfortable speaking in a Christian church as he is in a Muslim mosque, reflected on the 103rd chapter of the Holy Qur’an, titled “The Time,” and encouraged his audience to appreciate and understand the “time” we are living in. Showing unity of religion is absolutely necessary for the freedom of our people, he said. The religious leader continued, “In most African countries, Muslims and Christians are not in unity with one another. Muslims and Christians are constantly arguing. Tribal differences are destroying national purpose and will, so we have to grow into that knowledge that brings religion together and grows tribe into nation; and grows organizations into organizational strength and unity.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi in July of 2001 in Zambia, at the rechristening of the Organization of African Union, as the African Union, in a private meeting with Min. Farrakhan summed up the Minister’s and Africans in the Diaspora importance to the growth and development of Africa.

“The idea of African unity did not start in Africa,” he said. “It started in America from the Blacks of the Western Hemisphere, mainly the Caribbean and the United States.” The late Libyan leader, sounding like Nkrumah, said, “Since the idea started from the Blacks, the sons and daughters of Africa in the Western Hemisphere, this African Union must be fostered by Blacks in the Diaspora, and the Leaders of Africa must be encouraged and even morally pressured that they may understand that they are on a right course and that they must stay this course until it is successfully established.”

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