African Series Introduction
Volume IX: June 1921--December 1922
The present volume, the second of three devoted to documenting the development and activities of Marcus Garvey's "Africa for the Africans" movement in Africa, covers the period from 23 June 1921 through December 1922. These eighteen months witnessed the continued expansion of support for the movement throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the crucial phase in the attempts by colonial regimes and their metropolitan sponsors to repress the movement's influence, which was perceived as a threat to the maintenance of colonial rule. This period also saw the rise of increased African opposition to Garvey and the program of his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) as well as an intensification of the debate concerning the role of African Americans in the emancipation of Africa.
The volume opens with an announcement by W. E. B. Du Bois of the forthcoming Second Pan-African Congress. In addition to informing Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes of the meetings scheduled to take place in London, Brussels, and Paris in August and September 1921, Du Bois made a point of assuring Hughes that the Pan-African Congress "has nothing to do with the so called Garvey movement and contemplates neither force nor revolution in its program." Du Bois's attempt to differentiate the Congress from Garvey's UNIA would be only partially successful. Official colonial correspondence and numerous published reports in the metropolitan and colonial press chronicle European apprehensions regarding the upcoming Second Pan-African Congress; both Europeans and Africans thought that Garvey was involved in organizing the event, which occurred at the same time as the UNIA's second international convention in New York.
The Du Bois--Garvey conflict and its effect on African opinion represent one of the principal themes of the present volume, which shifts the focus from the historiographical preoccupation with the domestic differences between these two men to the international ramifications of their rivalry in Africa and Europe. In addition to the intensification of ideological competition between the two leaders for the allegiance of Africans, the convening of the Second Pan-African Congress also stimulated dissenting conservative voices, most notably those of the European-based Archibald Johnson and Bishop Charles S. Smith of the AME.
Reports in the African press as well as in Garvey's Negro World also reflect the broad range of opinions and reactions to Du Bois and the Pan-African Congress. Garvey condemned the congress for allegedly collaborating with colonial officials in attempting to blunt the appeal of his own message of African redemption. In his August 1921 convention speech, Garvey denounced Du Bois's congress for harboring the goal of "social equality" (a euphemism for miscegenation) and claimed that his enemies "will have to come better than a pan-African congress to defeat the objects of the UNIA." At the same convention, Garvey proposed the formation of an international political movement to be called the African Party.
The rivalry between Garvey and Du Bois would also implicate Blaise Diagne, the Senegalese deputy and president of the Pan-African Congress, who had strongly opposed Du Bois's stand condemning European colonialism in Africa. Diagne's denunciation of Garvey also intensified anti-Diagne sentiment among younger French African nationalists, who were opposed to the idea of French tutelage and were thus attracted to Garvey's militant brand of nationalism. And, in a larger sense, the Garvey--Du Bois--Diagne conflict exemplifies the major theme of the African Series, namely, the complex relation of Garveyism to the emergence and articulation of African nationalism not only in sub-Saharan Africa but also in America and the European colonial metropoles.
The documents presented in the current volume also provide an extremely detailed firsthand account of the evolution and disintegration of the UNIA's 1921 Liberian development project. At the time of the highly critical 24 June 1921 report to Garvey by the organization's resident secretary in Liberia, Cyril Crichlow, Garvey had still not been allowed to return to the U.S. from his tour of the Caribbean and Central America, a trip he had undertaken in February 1921 to push the sale of Liberia Construction Loan bonds. He was finally able to return to the U.S. in early July. Crichlow's report indicates the author's gradual disenchantment with Garvey as well as with the UNIA's capacity to sustain its Liberian development project. His disillusion resulted not only from the failure of the UNIA to live up to its commitments but also, in large measure, from the hostility that he encountered on the part of Gabriel Johnson, the UNIA's potentate and mayor of Monrovia. The stormy relationship between Crichlow, on the one hand, and Johnson and George O. Marke, the UNIA's deputy supreme potentate, on the other, undercut all attempts to continue courting the Liberian government. Upon his return to the U.S., Crichlow would publish an extensive exposé denouncing the UNIA and its entire Liberian program in the December 1921 issue of the Crusader, official organ of the African Blood Brotherhood.
The documents record the souring of the UNIA's official relationship with the Liberian regime as well. This was publicly confirmed in a statement prepared for visiting president C. D. B. King of Liberia by Du Bois and published in the June 1921 Crisis. Disavowing the "aggressive" aims of the UNIA, King attempted to distance his government from any taint of involvement with Garvey at a time when he and the Liberian plenary commission were in America seeking to renegotiate the U.S.-Liberian loan. The U.S. Congress eventually disapproved the loan, despite the recommendation of President Warren G. Harding.
In contrast with the troubles that engulfed the UNIA in Liberia, the present volume chronicles its establishment in Accra, Gold Coast, and its activities in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Lagos, Nigeria. Most significantly, the volume also documents the extraordinary growth in the UNIA's following in South West Africa, after Fitz Herbert Headly, president of the UNIA division in Lüderitz, traveled to Windhoek to "further the cause in the interior." As word of its presence spread among the Herero and Ovambo peoples, the UNIA was appropriated by Africans as a means of presenting their many grievances against their former German colonizers and the exploitative South African regime that replaced it following World War I. In a January 1922 letter, Headly thanked a Herero headman for his hospitality, asserting that only through the UNIA "can we regain our national manhood." In January 1922 the Windhoek UNIA division was strong enough to petition the town council for permission to erect its own meeting hall, though permission was denied; later that year, the Lüderitz UNIA division actually reported having 871 dues-paying members. The present volume thereby shows the importance in South West Africa of the Garvey movement, which supplied the ideological framework for the emergence of subsequent Namibian nationalism.
Garvey's "Africa for the Africans" message in South Africa continued to spread during this period; it continued despite the fracturing of relations between Garvey's followers and ICU leaders Clements Kadalie and S. M. B. Ncwana, editor of the Cape Town Black Man. In America, M. Mokete Manoedi ("a Native of Basutoland") lent his name to a political broadside (Garvey and Africa) that sought to discredit the UNIA leader in the eyes of Africans and probably was actually written by Garvey's nemesis, Cyril V. Briggs, a Communist party theoretician and head of the African Blood Brotherhood. A copy was made available by the putative author in September 1922 to British secretary of state for the colonies Winston Churchill.
Meanwhile, South Africa's large urban concentrations of literate Africans and a vibrant working class afforded fertile ground for Garvey's propaganda as well as material support for several local UNIA divisions. The establishment in New York, in September 1921, of the African Orthodox Church (AOC) by UNIA chaplain general Rev. George Alexander McGuire would expand Garvey's identification with the "Africa for the Africans" movement by providing a linkage to African churches spawned by the AOC in South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, and East Africa.
A major component of the present volume is the record of French suppression of the Garveyite presence in Senegal, primarily but not exclusively among English-speaking Africans from neighboring Sierra Leone. Following the accidental discovery of a registered-letter receipt with the address of the UNIA's headquarters in New York, colonial officials launched wide-scale police searches and investigations that resulted in the detention of several UNIA supporters in Dakar and Rufisque and their eventual expulsion from Senegal. The French, however, were never able to apprehend the UNIA's elusive traveling commissioner, John Kamara, whose presence in Dakar and other parts of West Africa was confirmed by documents seized in the raids. Remaining UNIA activists in Senegal were thereafter kept under close police surveillance. French customs officials also reported discovering a bundle of Negro World issues addressed to Armand Angrand, a municipal councillor in Gorée, Senegal, whom the government believed to have been in correspondence with Garvey.
Colonial police surveillance of Garveyism was a constant component of the movement's history. The Negro World was banned in French West Africa in January, in Nyasaland in March, in Nigeria in June, in the Gambia in September, and in the Gold Coast in December 1922. In the Belgian Congo, an official ordinance gave the colonial government the power to refuse entry to foreigners. South African and South West African police conducted extensive surveillance of Garveyite activities. In Kenya, colonial officials and police investigators sought to establish the existence of a connection between the UNIA and Joswa Kamulegeya of the Young Baganda Association. Police in Freetown interrogated a UNIA deportee from Senegal to ascertain the nature of the material confiscated in Dakar.
In addition, colonial regimes often identified African opposition to colonial rule with supposed Garveyite influence. Political repression was swift and oftentimes violent. In October 1921 the prophet Simon Kimbangu was condemned to death in the Belgian Congo, the sentence being later commuted to life imprisonment. In February 1922 the Portuguese violently suppressed the Catete revolt in Luanda, Angola, also banning the Liga Angolana and all publications expressing African grievances. In Kenya, two days after East African Association leader Harry Thuku's arrest in March 1922, police reacted to his calls for civil disobedience by shooting and killing at least twenty-one demonstrators in Nairobi. Garvey responded to the killings by calling a public meeting at Liberty Hall in Harlem and sending a cable to British prime minister David Lloyd George protesting the harsh treatment of Africans in Kenya. In May 1921, at an encampment at Bulhoek near Queenstown in the eastern Cape, over two hundred followers of the prophet leader Enoch Mgijima were massacred by the South African military. Mgijima was well informed and strongly supportive of Garvey's vision of "Africa for the Africans." One year later, South African forces brutally crushed the uprising of the Bondelswarts, a Nama-speaking people in South West Africa, described by colonial officials as "a very warlike and independent race with little respect for the European," employing air power for the first time in history to strafe civilian villages.
Whereas some colonial governments exaggerated the importance of Garveyism, others dismissed and diminished it; nonetheless, they all reacted in very similar ways, by banning the Negro World newspaper, deporting and expelling suspected UNIA adherents, arresting and imprisoning Africans associated in one way or another with the movement, and crushing any hint of insurrection in order to preserve respect for the sanctity of colonial rule. In documenting the colonialist response, the present volume underscores the unity of colonial interests in the suppression of African political movements. Colonialists tended to see the Garvey phenomenon as linked with every incident of African resistance, forming some kind of vast conspiracy. In some instances, Garveyism clearly played a role, as with Harry Thuku and the East African Association. In others, while it may have been involved, European apprehensions were clearly exaggerated. The Belgian colonial press, for example, was filled with reports of armed African Americans fomenting rebellion in the Belgian Congo. Officials, missionaries, and settlers believed that Garveyites as well as English Protestant missionaries were behind the Kimbangu movement (ngunzism). The volume ends with a December 1922 French intelligence report recounting how, largely in response to "pan-negro agitation" supposedly instigated by Garveyites, freedom of the press had been suppressed in the Belgian Congo, and stating the overall necessity to keep watch on Garveyism in Africa.
The present volume also documents the effect on African opinion of Garvey's indictment on mail-fraud charges in February 1922, in connection with the sale of stock in the Black Star Line. This allowed colonial officials to justify their claim that Garvey had used the UNIA to obtain money fraudulently from Africans. Garvey's arrest in the U.S. thus became an African event, resulting in the resignation of the Lagos UNIA division secretary Ernest Ikoli. Back in the U.S., a severely weakened Garvey was also forced to beat a strategic retreat. Following the dissolution of the Black Star Line Corporation in April 1922, Garvey modified the UNIA's previous militant stand by seeking external sources of support to buttress the organization's faltering resources, thereby diluting its appeal as the symbol of racial autonomy.
By early 1922, the question of Africa began to be subordinated to Garvey's search for white allies. The first intimation of this political shift came on 13 February 1922---two days before Garvey's indictment in New York---when Garvey publicly praised Mississippi state senator T. S. McCallum's resolution urging the U.S. Congress to acquire land in Africa for "the founding of a national home for the American Negro" as the solution to America's race problem. (The McCallum resolution was passed by the Mississippi state senate on 20 February 1922.) Garvey's African redemption program was thus realigned to coincide with the philosophy of the white American Colonization Society; this ideological shift was underscored by Garvey's 25 June meeting with Ku Klux Klan leader Edward Young Clarke in Atlanta, Georgia, a gesture reminiscent of the "Southernizing" strategy that conservative black politicians advocated after the collapse of Reconstruction in the late 1870s.
The same shift away from militant self-reliance and toward racial accommodation, with the consequent reduction of the rhetoric of racial oppression, was manifest in Garvey's outreach to European governments with colonies in Africa. In April 1922, Garvey embarked on a letter-writing campaign to invite European foreign ministries to send an official representative to the UNIA's third international convention scheduled for August. It was done in the belief, as Garvey stated in the letter addressed to the Italian government, that "the time is near when the Italian government and its subjects of the Negro race and Negrophiles must arrive at a friendly entente, i.e., at a basis for the formation of an equitable government," and with the hope of "obtaining the cooperation of the Italian Colonial Secretariat concerning the political betterment of those millions who are mute, and who are under Italian domination."
It would appear that the architect of this conciliatory international strategy was the redoubtable Egyptian publicist Dusé Mohamed Ali, former editor of the influential London-based African Times and Orient Review. Ali had moved from England to the U.S. in October 1921; after meeting with Garvey, he was appointed UNIA "foreign secretary" and head of the Negro World 's Africa section in February 1922. Ali's impact on the UNIA was immediate, his stock quickly rising in the eyes of colleagues in the organization's leadership to the point where it was predicted by a U.S. Bureau of Investigation informant, in March 1922, that Ali would soon take control of the organization. Ali also played an active role in sending invitations to several leading African figures, urging them to attend the UNIA's upcoming 1922 convention.
The capstone to these diplomatic initiatives was the UNIA's framing of a petition to the League of Nations in July 1922, requesting that the former German possessions in Africa be turned over to black people for development as a national homeland. In the petition, Garvey modified his previous stand by assuring the league that the UNIA was not seeking to establish a government over the whole of Africa; instead, the petition asked only that "certain sections of Africa" be turned over. Similarly, in contrast with Garvey's earlier condemnation of the league as the enforcer of Europe's repartition of Africa, the petition offered the league the UNIA's assistance "in enforcing its civilized program for the good of the entire human family." Garvey also dispatched an official UNIA delegation, headed by Deputy Potentate George O. Marke, to attend the meetings of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 1922.
Finally, the present volume discloses the ominous flurry of correspondence and reports exchanged in late 1922 by Italian officials in New York and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, concerning the progress of Garveyism in the United States and Africa. These reports, which display keen insight into the significance of black nationalism, were written in the aftermath of the fascist seizure of power in Italy in October 1922. They reveal the genesis of Italian fascism's ultimate objective in Africa, which would become tragically clear with Italy's assumption of a "civilizing duty" in East Africa in 1934 and its invasion and conquest of Ethiopia in 1935--1936, a watershed event that was to have a profoundly revitalizing and radicalizing effect upon Pan-African political consciousness in Africa and America. The ascendancy of fascism, born of the upsurge of irridentist nationalism that followed in the wake of World War I, would have serious consequences both for European security and for Europe's colonial empires in Africa, which would not survive the African political reawakening and worldwide realignments that followed World War II.
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