African American Summit, Gabon, Africa, May 27, 1993
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gave one of the most extraordinary speeches ever recorded at the African American Summit in Gabon in 1993. Below is the transcript of that speech. It can be viewed in 4 parts here:
(Part 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ROVmbapPk
(Part 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phhRGO_QWfA
(Part 3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIf19LKz8os
(Part 4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yoFMpiCx1g
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, I bear witness there is no God but Allah, the Creator of all things, the Sender of all prophets, the Revealer of all truths. To Allah alone do I submit and seek refuge. We thank Allah for Moses and the Torah, for Jesus and the Gospel, for Muhammad and the Holy Qur’an. I thank Allah as a student of my teacher, the man who taught me that which I’m about to say to you, my dear Brothers and Sisters, with the greeting words of peace in the Arabic language, As-Salaam Alaikum, which means in English, Peace Be Unto You.
To His Excellency, El Hajj President Omar Bongo, to the distinguished people of Gabon, to our eminent and brilliant Brother, Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, the visionary who caused this African-African American Summit to come into existence, to excellencies, presidents and heads of state and government; to the distinguished leadership in Black America, and to all who are present, it is more than an honor and more than a privilege for me to have this opportunity to say a few words this afternoon. In fact, I feel deeply humbled.
I believe that all of us are religious people. Some of us are Christians; some of us are Muslims. Some of us may practice the religions of animism, but all of us believe in a Creator. Since we believe in a Creator and since all of us know that Africa and Black people in the Diaspora are in a terrible and wretched condition—that no power can get us out of this condition but the power of Allah (God)—then we should never open a summit or close a summit without calling on the Lord of Creation for His help.
As heads of state and government and leaders of our people, we are in authority over people and over material that none of us are the actual author or creator of. Why then should we not give honor to Him, Who is the Author of All Things so that what we say and what we do may be blessed by Him that we may be successful in coming out of the condition that all of us as Black people suffer.
When I was told that I might have a word to say, I went to bed last night and thoughts came to me in the middle of the night. So I shall not read anything but I shall say to you what thoughts were revealed to me.
This is an august body of leaders, leaders of thousands, leaders of tens of thousands, leaders of millions and leaders of tens of millions. The problem in the world today is not the followers or the people. The problem in the world today is with the leadership. The Bible teaches: “If the blind lead the blind, both fall in the ditch.” If our leaders are spiritually blind and morally bankrupt, then we have no right to lead our people.
So I shall quote from the Holy Qur’an a chapter that was given to me this morning and attempt to show its relevance. Only you, the leadership, can bear witness whether this is coming from one’s own vanity or is it a message from the Lord of Creation.
In the 103rd Chapter of the Holy Qur’an titled, Al-Asr, meaning ‘The Time,’ Allah says to us, “By the time, surely, man is in loss, except those who believe and do good and enjoin one another to truth and enjoin one another to patience.” The Muslim prayer, titled ‘Salat-ul-Asr,’ is performed when the sun is midway between its zenith and the time of its setting. These verses of the Qur’an are not just talking about the time of prayer. These verses are referring to the time of the setting of the sun on a world, civilization and a people—“By the time, surely, man is in loss.”
We are here at a summit because each one of us is losing power, authority, wealth, self-esteem, and the dignity of our own humanity because we’re in a new form of slavery called debt. Surely, man is in loss. Why, because we are not aware of the time. It is not the time by our watch, but the time by Allah’s (God’s) measurement of time. What time is it? We are at the time of the end of White supremacy. We are at the time of the end of White domination of the darker peoples of the world. We are at the time of the end of racism, sexism and materialism.
If we are leading people and we are unaware of the time and what the time demands, then our leadership and those who follow our leadership will suffer loss. What time is it, dear leaders? It is time for us to lead our people in accord with the time; time demands that those of us who have been enslaved be free; time demands that those of us who yesterday suffered under colonial rule must come out from under colonial power. Time demands that neo-colonialism must never be allowed to be substituted for an old form of colonialism which allows a Black face to administrate over the same old plantation system of our former colonial masters.
As I reflected on these verses of the Qur’an, I was given a picture from the Bible showing me that the unity of religion is absolutely necessary for the freedom of our people. 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.
What is the picture that I was shown? In the Book of Ezekiel in the Bible, there’s a story about a baby that came to birth but the baby was in an open field covered and polluted in the blood of the afterbirth and there was no one present to cut the umbilical cord, swaddle and salt the baby.
The scriptures say, “And I walked by and I saw this baby in an open field and I said, live.” The baby could not live polluted in its own blood and it could not live without the umbilical cord cut. It could not live except there was someone there to perform the necessary duty by that baby.
Who is that child polluted in its own blood? Did you know, my dear and beloved leaders, that independence can never be given. No European can grant you true independence. Independence is earned through self-development. This is how we came to birth from our mother’s womb. Independence could not be given to us by our mothers. We earned it by developing beyond the ability of the tiny house called womb to hold us in its grip. When the womb could no longer hold us, our heads forged the way for our freedom and that’s what the head is for. That is the real purpose for having to forge the way to freedom of the people who line up behind leadership hungering and thirsting for liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the opportunity to express the gifts that Allah (God) has given so bounteously to us.
What is the condition of the baby? Some of us have been free 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years but we lay in an open field, polluted in the life (blood) of colonialism. Polluted in the afterbirth of what White European, and White supremacists have imposed on Africa and the darker people upon the earth.
Beloved leaders and guides of the people, when we say “polluted in the blood,” it means we still live the life of a slave. We don’t think like free men. We go to the capitals of America and Europe, like paupers, weak to demand or ask for what unjust regimes will never give. Unless we develop power to force unjust governments to yield to our just demands, then we will never achieve what we desire for our people. All French speaking countries are tied to France and the blood of old colonialism is covering all Francophone leaders. I must speak honestly and frankly.
All Anglophone leaders are tied to England. All of us are tied to our former masters in one way or another and, therefore, we don’t talk about real freedom, we talk about emancipation. But what is the true meaning of the word? Emancipation does not know freedom. Emancipation comes from the Latin word “mancipere,” which means to free from your hand but not from your control.” You are free from the hand of Europe but you are still under the control of Europe. We are free from the hand of the government of America but we are still tied to them in many other ways. Until we can truly cut the umbilical cord and come to a state of real independence, we are fooling ourselves. We have the pomp and circumstances of real power, but beneath it there is no real substance. So we pat each other on the back and say nice things to one another to make each other feel good, but each of us in our own way knows how powerless we are when it comes to having real and meaningful power to change the reality and condition under which our poor people suffer.
We need to be washed from colonial education, an education that makes us lead our people in a way of our former slave masters rather than to lead them in the way of true independence. We don’t need French masters to tell us how to educate African children, nor do we need the approval of England to teach our people what our people need to know. Each one of you has been educated in some of the finest universities and colleges of the world but what good is it for us to be educated and our people to be ignorant? The government of our people imposes upon every leader a responsibility. Each one of us as leaders lives in fine homes; we wear fine clothes; we drive in fine cars but our people have nothing to eat because sometimes we lead not for the benefit of the people whom we are supposed to lead. Sometimes we lead our people to the benefit of our former colonial slave masters. Our colonial slave masters allow us to lead, so they won’t trouble your leadership because your leadership is ineffective. Every leader must be a teacher to help remove the veil of ignorance from our people.
Every strong leader that Africa produced has been killed by the same forces that hate Black progress. In Africa and America, we have seen our leaders who lead for our good cut down. You and I are the leaders of today. You have the baton of leadership in your hand. I have it in mine. We, dear brothers and sisters, have it in ours. But the question is: Will we lead or will we play a game of let’s get along? Get along for what purpose? You cannot sell out the future of your nation in order to live in luxury at the expense of the yearning of our people for self-development and economic development. Nor can our hands across the waters be served by greedy, ambitious business people who are not really concerned with the development of a people but want to fatten their own pockets at the expense people. I am not trying to embarrass anyone. I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. But I am not a politician; I am a man of God. As a man of God, I cannot help myself; I have to say that Allah (God) demands of me to say. Whether you like me or not is irrelevant or immaterial. I am not seeking any favor. I am seeking to be accepted by Allah (God) as a representative of His Will.
Beloved leaders, I am appealing to you on behalf of our people to lead for the good of all of our people. Lead for the development of our people. Lead to erase ignorance from the heads of our people and, above all, let no one keep African leaders divided against each other and let no one in America keep us divided against each other. We do not communicate with each other, therefore, an enemy gets between us and represents me to you and you to me and we never get together to strengthen our bond of unity.
It is the same in Africa. These are those who would tell you who you should be with and who you should not be with. I say to the government of the United States of America, you have a big role to play, but not a role to crush the growing good leadership in Africa. Your role is one of a nurturer. The baby is lying in the open field. Somebody has to wash the baby; somebody has to cut the umbilical cord; someone has to nurse the baby to strength. That’s what the government of America and the government of Europe should be doing. The government of America should be in Africa helping every African government to help itself.
No African government or people can be free with its mouth in the kitchen of Europe. Every African government must, as a people, grow food to feed itself. Do not let Europeans tell you that your land cannot grow food. Grow food and become self-independent, for when you grow your own food, make your own clothing and build your own shelter, you are on the road of becoming economically free. You are tied to Europe in an ungodly way. You buy butter from them as though we cannot turn milk into butter. We buy milk from them as though we cannot get cows to produce milk. We buy material from them that we could produce right here on the African continent.
Brothers and sisters, I want to be a leader not for others but I would love to be a leader that Allah (God) approves for the sake of the people. I appeal to you in the name of Allah (God), leave this conference and go home and think about what we could do together to raise all of our people up from the bondage of ignorance and from under the foot of oppression.
To the dear president of Benin who told us today that the Pope came to Africa and asked Africa to forgive Europe for her evils done to Africa, I think the Pope should be commended for taking a moral stand but he’s only halfway there. I appeal to the Pope, on behalf of Africa, there can be no forgiveness without admission of sin and there can be no admission of sin without atonement for what one has done of evil. So we ask the Pope if he would ask us to forgive, I would ask the Pope from this stand, on behalf of this summit, please, Your Holiness, go to the capitols of Europe and ask them to admit their evil against Africa that is not only yesterday but today. Ask those in Europe , Your Holiness, if they admit their guilt, ask them how they are willing to atone for their evil.
Since Africa is in debt to Europe and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which is nearly $350 billion and they owe us more than that, then let them atone for their evil by forgiving all debt to Africa.
If his Holiness Pope John Paul II would do this, I am sure Africa would be willing to forgive because we have gained from slavery; we have gained with colonialism because as the Bible teaches, we were not tried with silver and gold. We were tried in the furnace of affliction and we have come out of it stronger and better. Therefore, we demand the right now to be heard in the halls of justice because we know what injustice is like. We deserve to be heard speaking out against racism because we know the affect and the evil of racism. It will not be Black over White or White over Black; but today it must be right over wrong, truth over falsehood, justice over injustice.
Lastly, I say to this magnificent human being, the Reverend Dr. Leon Sullivan, a man whom Allah (God) has inspired with this vision to bring all of us together. Dear Reverend Dr. Sullivan, I want to pledge to you, sir, in perpetuity, the Nation of Islam, all present leaders and future leaders, to the vision of a developed Africa and a developed Black America. But it must not just stop there because the sons and daughters of Africa are in the Caribbean, they are in Central America, South America and the Isles of the Pacific. We must unite the sons and daughters of Africa from all over the world. We pledge that we will never let your vision die. So, to my distinguished friends and leaders from Black America, I thank Allah (God) for this summit that allowed me to be in a room with the distinguished Reverend Dr. Leon Sullivan, Reverend Joseph Lowery, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Height, these magnificent leaders of our people.
You do not know how my heart burns to be with you in solidarity, regardless to whether you disagree with me or not. You can reshape me if I am misshaped. You can help me if I am out of line, but you cannot help me if you do not talk to me. I have the courage of David to stand before Golaith and I do not need the weapons of the world to defeat him. I do need encouragement from the army of the people of Allah (God) that if I will stand, will you just help me to stand better? If I do not say it right, help me to shape the words better, but let us not let the enemy of all of us keep us apart, one from another because a weak hand on that side of the Atlantic reaching across to a weak hand on that side of the Atlantic makes both of us weak and ineffective and we’ll be around here in conferences for the next hundred years and we will see nothing come out of it but a whole lot of talk and no reality behind it.
If we are determined, from this day, that we will go back to America and we will let nobody keep us from the bond of unity, that we will fight for unity on that side to maximize our power so that we can speak to our government in proper terms and strengthen our government in the will to do better in Africa, but that will not happen if we are divided. But it will happen if we can speak with one strong voice. And on this side, if you, the leaders, will not let any European counsel you or American counsel you in division, if you will strengthen your unity and let nothing come between you, then a strong hand in Africa and strong united hand in America will make the vision of W.E.B. DuBois, George Padmore, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X—we will make it all come to fruition if we will get away from the pettiness of self-aggrandizement and recognize that each one of us is passing from the scene and we must leave our children and our children’s children a better world, and we cannot sell out their future for ham and turkey.