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Sulayman S. Nyang US-Africa Relations over the Last Century: An African Perspective OVER THE LAST CENTURY, RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND Africa have undergone many changes. The relationship between these two geographic zones has been defined primarily by the slave trade and the Cold War. Although historians familiar with the details of the two zones could come up with a number ofevents that to some degree charac­ terize the unique nature of this relationship, the fact remains that Africa and the United States ofAmerica have come to be associated in the minds of most people around the world only in terms oftheir black populations and their political and military connections during the Cold War. The pres­ ence of millions of people of African descent, and their growing power and self-assertiveness in the American political process, have combined to make US-Africa relations an issue ofgreater scholarly interest. No one who is a student of Africa over the last centuiy can deny the impact of European people on the face and history of this conti­ nent. If Africa was not a major theater during the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War and its ravages in Africa can still be seen after the Cold War’s conclusion in 1989. The presence of Cuban troops in Angola, the hazards of land mines in that countiy, the thousands of Africans who lost their lives in the ideologically charged civil wars in Ethiopia, and the large num ber of Africans who became refugees around the world, are all definite signs of the Cold War and its aftermath . What is being said here is that US-Africa relations, like all things social research Vol 72 : No 4 : Winter 2005 913 within nature, are ongoing. There have been moments of conflict and moments of reconciliation. The purpose of this brief essay is threefold. First, I intend to demonstrate that African opinions on and attitudes toward the United States are affected by the question of slavery, America’s support for colonialism, America’s attitudes toward the apartheid regime in South Africa, and America’s positions during the Cold War. The second objec­ tive of this paper is to identify the concept and movement of PanAfricanism as a source of value for African opinions on and attitudes toward the United States. Here I will show how this idea and the move­ ment that grew out of it have combined to define the view of America and the West held by black intellectuals who embraced such a position. The third objective is to offer a set of conclusions summarizing and emphasizing the points of convergence and divergence between the United States and the countries ofAfrica. AFRICAN O PINIO N S ON AND ATTITUDES TOW ARD THE UNITED STATES It needs to be made categorically clear that, although the slave trade is not the overriding fact in the minds of most Africans today, no African can enter the United States and ignore the black presence in this coun­ try. Second, even those Africans still living on the continent of Africa cannot deny that their people were captured and ferried over the Atlantic Ocean to serve as slaves in the Americas. This phenomenon— which I have described elsewhere as the Josephite and anti-Josephite tendencies in black history—is a painful remind to all blacks that the stigma associated with blackness among most white peoples of the world goes back to that original sin ofbetraying one’s brother. Just as in the biblical story ofJoseph, here too the Africans have the same moral and psychological dilemma that captured the attention and imagina­ tion of his brothers as well as those of Moses and the ancient Hebrews in the land of pharaoh. This analogy is not lost to modem historians, for one of them has described Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-bom leader of a mass movement in the United States, in the early part of the 914 social research twentieth centuiy, as “Black Moses.” Garvey, it should be noted, was a fervent advocate of Pan-Africanism. Committed to the liberation of his people and determined to see it through by all means available to him then, he did...


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