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African Series Introduction

Volume X: January 1923--1945

The following text is a rough draft of the introduction to the third book of the African Series (Volume 10), which is in the process of being completed. Currently, a chronology of events from January 1923 to 1945 is presented in outline form.

Garvey/UNIA parent body events during this period include Garvey's planned speaking tour of the world, and the international effort of European governments and colonial authorities to sabotage it by denying him visas. May/June 1923 is his mail fraud trial; he is incarcerated in February 1925, and released and deported to Jamaica in 1927. In 1927 he denounces Laura Kofey and her Florida UNIA chapter secedes from the parent body; she is assassinated in March 1928. Also in 1928 Garvey travels to Europe to renew his petition to the League of Nations; his movements are tracked by colonial officials (see 280417). In Jamaica he founds the UNIA, August 1929, of the World. In September 1929 he is convicted in Jamaica for contempt of court. In 1937, by which time his days of largescale power and influence are basically over, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. writes an editorial favorable to MG: "I can't endow him with any halo, but I have always admired him" (370130). In September 1937 Garvey launches the School of African Philosophy in Toronto, and the premature obituaries begin on 18 May 1940.

I. Southern/Central Africa: Intensification of Garveyite activities in South Africa. Rumors of an imminent arrival of African-American liberators continue to spread and escalate. The South African authorities monitor the Negro World, make attempts to confiscate it. Huge numbers of South Africans and South West Africans (Fitz Herbert Headly) are writing to the Negro World at this time, which shows the extent of its distribution in those countries, and the relevance of Garvey's message to the Africans there. The Natives (Urban Areas) Act was passed in 1923 which codified and extended the pass system and apartheid segregation in general, and on 9 July 1923 the South African government banned the issuing of passports to non-Europeans. Frank Mothiba, writing from Cape Town, ca. 15 November 1924, says, "The question then is what are we going to do? We could not appeal to the churches, we cannot appeal to Great Britain. We don't trust them anymore. The salvation of the non-European lies in himself."

In May 1925 Garveyite and ANC leader James Thaele begins publishing the African World in Cape Town, a newspaper devoted almost equally in its support of the ANC and the UNIA. In June of 1925, after Garvey has been incarcerated for mail fraud, the African World announces plans to hold a "Garvey Day" every month, to pray for him in prison. Also in June, D. P. S. Adams and others write a letter to President Calvin Coolidge appealing for Garvey's release. (Lekothla la Bafo in Basotholand, and the UNIA division in Accra, Gold Coast write similar letters.)

Johannesburg's Abantu-Batho writes an editorial praising Philosophy & Opinions, two volumes published in 1923 and 1925 respectively. In late 1926 Wellington Butelezi attempts to establish a UNIA division in Johannesburg; he goes on to found the "American School Movement," preaching about the coming African-American liberators. In 1928 Garvey writes to various people in South Africa appealing to them to send delegates to his upcoming convention. In June 1930, the UNIA allegedly organizes a protest in the Vrede District against the Riotous Assemblies Act. In 1937 James Hillarious Ghazu of Cape Town is still in active correspondence with the UNIA in New York, and from 1938 to 1942, Paul Gulwa of Tsolo corresponds steadily with Garvey, as he organizes a UNIA chapter there. In May 1939 Ghazu and Lutoli Semekazi are charged and convicted of sedition in Cape Province for their Garveyite activities. A document of 5 July 1943 shows the Cape Town chapter was still active by this date, three years after Garvey's death, and on 19 June 1944 a newspaper reports that the Johannesburg UNIA gave a reception, presided over by James Thaele, for the native representatives in Parliament. And the document which concludes the series, dated 'after 1945,' is a letter from France Lekuakue in Cape Town to the UNIA parent body, requesting information on the School of African Philosophy.

Elsewhere in the region: Isa M. Lawrence sentenced in Nyasaland in August 1926. In 1923 Southern Rhodesia was granted self-government by the British Crown, and nascent African nationalist organizing began; that same year the Rhodesian Bantu Voters Association was formed. In 1924--1925 Daniel Gwebu, returning from Cape Town, tries unsuccessfully to get permission from colonial authorities to form a chapter of the UNIA/ANC in Southern Rhodesia. 340219: Garvey writes to the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, appealing for delegates to his convention. In early 1936 Mutemwa (Shirley Wilson) begins organizing the UNIA and distributing the BM in SR, and in July Northern Rhodesia considers banning the newspaper. Scattered Nama parish reports from South West Africa lace the series, from 1923 to 1935. In 1931 the Kwangu-Kwilu revolt in the Belgian Congo was linked both to Garvey and the Watch Tower movement (320620; 320803, etc.), whereas in reality Garvey had been deported to Jamaica in 1927 and was making his living as a small businessman and auctioneer.

II. Liberia: C. D. B. King inaugurated in January 1924, UNIA delegation (technical and mechanical experts) arrives in Monrovia that same month. President King, along with Chief Justice J. J. Dossen and Arthur Barclay, meet with them in an unofficial capacity. In April King begins negotiations with the Firestone Corp., and in July the Liberian government officially repudiates the UNIA "colonization plan of 1924," deports the delegates and seizes their goods. (Article by Liberian Chief of Police Major A. H. Butler published Baltimore Afro-American, 4 June 1924, states that "Liberia bars Garveyites.") In November 1926 Firestone is granted a 99-year lease on one million acres of land. In March 1930 the League of Nations issues its report exposing the practice of forced labor in Liberia.

Elsewhere in West Africa: Shipping companies ordered not to issue tickets to UNIA members coming to West Africa, editorials published in the Gold Coast Leader praising MG (1926), 1931: Batson articles published in the NW, giving a rare account of an African American's impressions of West Africa.

French Africa: Lotin Same, Native Church Movement, active in Cameroon in 1923. NW French section began in February 1924. John Smith expelled from FWA in August 1924; Tovalou Houenou addressed the 1924 UNIA convention in New York. Les Continents founded May 1924, CDRN founded February 1926, LDRN founded May 1927 (in Paris). In 1930--1931, the Senegalese Amadou Sall speaks at UNIA meetings in New York, Philadelphia, etc, returns home to Senegal in November 1931, where his political activities are monitored closely by the authorities.

Portuguese Africa: In 1924 UNIA delegates visit the Liga Africana in Lisbon. In 1931--1932 a number of articles supportive of Garvey are published in Lisbon newspapers Mocidade Africana, Africa, and Tribuna d'Africa.

III. Ethiopia: In April 1929 Ras Tafari becomes emperor of Ethiopia, takes the title Hailie Selassie. Doc. # 311102 touches on the emigration of African Americans to Ethiopia. Beginnings of Rastafarian movement. In June 1935 Garvey's important editorials about the Italo-Ethiopian conflict begin in his London Black Man, at first supporting Hailie Selassie and denouncing Mussolini, whom he calls "a barbarian, compared to Hailie Selassie . . ." whom Garvey sees as a "sober, courteous and courageous gentleman" (BM, July 1935). Italy invades Ethiopia in October 1935, and by the following summer Garvey is denouncing Selassie, blaming him for the Italian invasion and claiming he "allowed himself to be conquered, by playing white" (BM, July--August 1936). Garvey's stand on the Ethiopian situation leads a significant number of his remaining followers to leave the UNIA to join the other organizations forming to come to the defense of the African nation. (Doc.# 360831: Una Brown letter attacks Garvey for his stand; 371127: I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson, general secretary of the International African Service Bureau, criticizes Garvey in article in the West Indian Crusader, for his stand both on Ethiopia and the Trinidad labor strikes.)

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