Sierra Leone’s diplomat speaks at Brand South Africa,China Office Dialogue

“What Africans Paid For South Africa’s Freedom”, A Presentation at
Brand South Africa (China office) Dialogue, 30th May 2014, Beijing,
People’s Republic of China

Kindly allow me, on behalf of my Ambassador and Embassy thank Brand
South Africa, China Office for inviting me to make a presentation on
the theme “What Africans Paid For South Africa’s Freedom”, even as
that country is marking 20years of democracy.

BAIMBA SPEAKS 1 (600 x 450)


Though on short notice, making such a presentation to scholars from
counties like Morocco, Algeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, African PhD
students  in leading Chinese Universities and Chinese journalists
could be challenging, but at the same time a learning process for me,

Apartheid was all about racial discrimination.  The enactment of
apartheid laws in 1948 led to the institutionalization of racial
discrimination. This was felt in every aspect of human life.

BAIMBA SPEAKS 2 (600 x 450)



Intervention by OAU:
The OAU and now AU came into been and helped propel the Independence
of the entire African Continent. From 1963, following its formation,

a.    It immediately called for sanctions against South Africa and
Portuguese goods and also agreed that each member state would
contribute 1% of their budget to the OAU fund for liberation.
Volunteer liberation fighters starting propping up and a Liberation
Committee set up to give aid to the liberation movements.

b.    The mandate of the committee was to soon expand to cover the
promotion of an international campaign against apartheid, under the
auspices of the UN. The committee closely followed developments in
South Africa and presented annual and special reports to the UN
General Assembly and the Security Council, with recommendations for

c.    In April 1969 fourteen independent black states from Central and
East Africa met in Zambia to discuss African issues. The meeting
resulted in the formulation of the Lusaka Manifesto, a statement
outlining the diplomatic position of independent African states. It
called for black majority rule for all states in Africa and for human
equality and dignity throughout Africa and rejected racism.

African Leaders Took a Centre stage:
Individual African governments made enormous financial and material
contributions to the work of the South African liberation movements.

First, diplomacy was a major tool used by Africans in the fight
against apartheid not until in 1962, when African members of the UN,
through a resolution–Number 1761 (XV III)–requested for a “Special
Committee against Apartheid”. This committee was to become, later, the
main instrument of the UN for promoting and monitoring action against
apartheid. It informed world opinion of the situation in South Africa
and promoted action against apartheid by UN bodies and agencies.
During his undercover trip across Africa in 1962, Nelson Mandela was
received with munificence by all the African leaders he met. Several
African leaders at the time played crucial roles in ensuring a free
South Africa. Few examples below:

a)    Through his writings/poetry, Leopold Sengor of Senegal spread the
gospel of Negritude which put the Black race into prominence,
worldwide. Africans in the diaspora took the anti-apartheid banner and
fought with the rest of Africa for the abolition of apartheid.

b)    Sekou Toure of Guinea and Modibo Keita of Mali joined Kwameh
Nkrumah of Ghana as trail blazers to drive home to West Africa the
imperative need to free South Africa from White minority domination.

c)    Julius Nyrere of Tanzania was also a leading figure in the fight
against apartheid in South Africa

d)    Ghana was a leading force, in rallying support against apartheid.
Nkrumah in  6 March 1957, spoke about the need to liberate the whole
of Africa, when he said, in his independence speech, that  “the
independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the
total liberation of the whole African continent”

e)    Fourah Bay College of Sierra Leone, the oldest institution of
Higher Learning in Africa, South of the Sahara was an invaluable
academic training ground, without territorial limitation(s) for
Freedom Fighters from the SADEC and beyond.

The 1960 Sharpeville massacre  in South Africa (Nkrumah’s intervention)
*    Occurred in March 21, 1960 following shooting on Black South African
protesters. There was a serious intensification of oppressive measures
against opponents of the apartheid regime;

*    Nkrumah sent an aircraft to wait in Francistown (now Botswana) to
ferry to Ghana, any South African who managed to reach the safety of
Francistown. Among South Africans who came to Ghana, were Ronald
Segal, editor of a magazine called Africa South, and, H. M. Basner,
who was given important posts (Basner became an influential columnist
for Nkrumah’s paper, The Ghanaian Times)

*    In his drive to free Africa including South Africa, Nkrumah was
deposed while inflight to China in 1966. Ghana and Africa as a whole
was robbed of a Freedom Fighter President. The ramifications are far

Financial Support:
Mandela is believed to have received a gift of thousands pounds
sterling that Sir Ahmadu Bello made to the ANC.  This was same with
MKO Abiola a Nigerian business man. Lesson learnt:  Indicative that
when it came to South Africa, almost all African leaders rallied round
to help, without consideration of the existing ideological

June 16, a Tragic Moment for Africa:
Afrikaans was the “language of the oppressor” and it resulted in
growing resentment in teachers as well as students. It was on June
16th June 1976 when the resentment crossed all thresholds; thousands
of black students went on a protest rally from their schools to
Orlando Stadium. Students were killed and Africa was united in
condemning the aggression and brutality of the white. Since then, 16th
June is celebrated as day of the African child.

The price that Africans paid for South Africa’s freedom is beyond
measure.   The struggle for a free South Africa largely helped in
forging African unity amongst nations in the continent.

During the period when Fire Brand African leaders were spreading the
South African gospel of Race Equality regardless of Color, a few
others were spreading the Red Carpet for Apartheid South Africa to
Walk Tall.

Without prejudice, the list of African countries that suffered the
most with apartheid SA could be drawn from the ages of African
Diplomatic Missions here in Beijing.

John Baimba Sesay,
Sierra Leone Embassy
People’s Republic of China


John Baimba Sesay
Press Attaché
Sierra Leone Embassy
7 Dong Zhi Men Wai Dajie,
Chaoyang District, Beijing
People’s Republic of China
*Tel: 0086-13701206875*
* Fax:0086-1065323752*

Public relations are a key component of any operation in this day of
instant communications and rightly inquisitive citizens. -Alvin Adams

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