The Algerian revolution: Textbook for Africa’s liberation

Makwaia Wa Kuhenga

THE months of December every calendar year are landmark periods for two countries in Africa: Algeria and Tanzania. This weekend, Saturday December 9, Tanzania will be celebrating its 56th independence anniversary – the day Mainland Tanzania (Tanganyika) achieved its independence from Britain.

That was on December 9th 1961. But it was on December 11, 1960 that there were mass demonstrations in Algiers by Algerian people rallying behind their national liberation movement, the National Liberation Front (FLN). Indeed, Algerian people converged in demonstrations across Algerian cities, demanding full independence for their country.

During that year, the then French colonized population of Algeria had embarked on large-scale popular uprisings across the country. They were joined by the elderly, women and children from across the Algerian cities.

They waved banners and fists in the air demanding total independence - away from French President De Gaulle’s neo-colonial agenda to hand the country to handpicked puppets subservient to France. So one sees immediately that the Algerian independence struggle was two-pronged simultaneously– against conventional colonialism and neo-colonialism.

Historical documents reveal that the then French President De Gaulle had planned to be in Algeria from December 9–12th in 1960 to rally support for his neo-colonial agenda camouflaged as “Algerian Algeria”.

Reads an historical document: “Based on the models imposed in other former French colonies, the De Gaulle’s plan would have handed power to a ruling class, itself subservient to the French Government, which would then oversee what amounted to another form of economic vassalage”.

It is in this context that the Algerian Revolution had graduated into a comprehensive textbook for all people in the Third World then struggling against colonialism, minority rule and apartheid.

Most remarkable had been the Algerian national liberation front (FLN) which had far reaching impact to the rest of Africa, earning the praise of South Africa’s post apartheid revolutionary leader, Nelson Mandela who had elected to train in Algeria in guerrilla warfare.

Says he in his book - Long Walk to Freedom: “It is the Algerian army which transformed me into the highest level of human specie – a freedom fighter.” A writer on the life the late Madiba Nelson Mandela has written: “During his life-time, Mandela always maintained an intense and privileged relationship with Algeria. This special link was born in the early 1960s and stayed strong until his death in December 2013.

“It was in Algeria that Mandela, come March 1962, received his initial military training from the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). He trained at FLN bases along the border with Morocco”. As alluded at the launch of this perspective, calendar year months of December are particularly unique for both Algeria and Tanzania.

As we have seen, December 1960 was a catalyst year that launched the Algerian Revolution that eventually buried French colonialism. Consequently, Algeria took it upon itself to train the rest of Africa’s freedom fighters amongst who was Nelson Mandela - so that the rest of Africa could be free.

As for Tanzania, mainland Tanganyika’s independence in 1961 uniting with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964 heralded the beginning of the country’s support to Africa’s liberation movements, eventually becoming the seat of the Liberation Committee of the Organization of African Unity then (OAU).

For Tanzania, from the outset, the question of the total liberation of Africa was a matter of principal, assuming a principled political line. That was particularly the case during the days of the founder President Mwalimu Nyerere who once said of Palestine: “If the legitimacy of the state of Israel is not an issue today, for how long will Palestinian people remain homeless?”

Mwalimu Nyerere’s stance had been within the strides of two Algerian Presidents, former President Boumediene and current President Bouteflika who have said: “The independence of Algeria cannot make sense without the liberation of Palestine.”

Last month, celebrating the 63rd anniversary of the Algerian National Day, Algerian ambassador to Tanzania Saad Belabed said: “My country which has experienced horrors of an atrocious war against colonialism cannot turn its back on other people in quest for freedom.

“Algeria intends to continue its support for the Palestinian and Sahrawi people for their total liberation.” As reflected in the headline of this perspective, Algeria by its actions from its birth has constituted itself into a textbook for Third World countries especially on the question of the total liberation of Africa and has not wavered in the interest of economic expediency.

Countries such as Western Sahara and Palestine need unwavering support from all UN member countries so that their quest for sovereignty and independence are secured.

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