Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

An Anthem for the Dream Land: The Legacy of Poetry for the Palestinian and African-American Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

Academic journal article Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

An Anthem for the Dream Land: The Legacy of Poetry for the Palestinian and African-American Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

Article excerpt

"We have a country of words. Speak speak so I can put my road on the stone of a stone. We have a country of words. Speak speak so we may know the end of this travel."--Mahmoud Darwish, "We Travel Like All Other People"

I. Introduction

The 1960s and 1970s appear as a symbol of revolution in the African-American history and stand out as a period of a crucial ideological, political and cultural change in Palestinian history as well. The decade brought about revolutions of numerous kinds and various levels all around the globe, but a specific political phenomenon holds the most profound impact in the political consciousness of African Americans and the Palestinian community alike. The decolonization movement with the rise of what Frantz Fanon called "consciousness of the colonized" and the Third World Movement became raw material for the new Palestinian and African-American political agendas, saturated with revolutionary and nationalist ideas.

The major event that is thought to have inspired the anti-colonial movement is the Afro-Asian conference held in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. It is the first example of active collaboration between the Third World countries that manifested their will to struggle for sovereignty and equality of all nations and races. A few years after the conference all the ideals of Bandung were brought to life as the world was witnessing the rise of new independent nations and the intensive process of decolonization throughout the Third World. Just two years after the event, in 1957, Ghana became the first African nation to gain independence from the British Empire. Ghana's Leader, Kwame Nkrumah, affirmed his position as a major figure in the anti-colonialist movement and became the leader of the first independent African nation. Another leader of liberation and nationalist struggles arose when Gamal Abdel Nasser became the first democratic leader of Egypt in 1956. Nasser not only encouraged a great number of uprisings and liberation struggles in various places on the African continent but also brought about the rebirth of the Arab nationalist ideology, which culminated in the creation of the Arab League in 1964. By 1970s each and every North African country became a member of this organization.

In 1962 the Algiers gained independence fulfilling the life-long dream of Frantz Fanon, a prominent Black scholar and psychologist from Martinique, who made a profound contribution to the anti-colonization and anti-racist struggles in Algeria and throughout the African continent. At this point it is difficult to ignore the strength of historical connections between Arab and African nationalisms and political struggles. Where does the Middle East or Arab World end and Africa begin? Do countries like Egypt, Algiers, and Morocco, as well as other Muslim and Arabic speaking countries on the African continent belong among the African nations or do they embody the Pan Arab ideals of Nasser and constitute a part of the Arab world? It is not my intent here to provide the answers to either one of these complex questions. My focus rather is to reveal the connections between African and Arab nationalisms and the struggle for self-determination and dignity, using the example of African-American community and the Palestinian people, each of whom without a doubt made an enormous contribution to these struggles. In many ways, the African American and Palestinian Diasporas created by exile and displacement, as well as the Palestinian people under occupation and the ones living within Israeli borders, provide a powerful link between the vast territories of Middle Eastern and African continents and the Western world through their cultural and political activism.

I am obliged to emphasize the enormous scope of work embedded in a proper survey of my thesis and affirm that this article is only a brief introduction to a much larger project dedicated to African American/Palestinian collaboration and similar tendencies in their political and aesthetic ideologies. …

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