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The Republic of New Afrika April 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

The Forgotten Kingdoms series continues with an interesting and ultimately bloody recent experiment in nationhood: the Republic of New Afrika [sic]. Created 31 March 1968 the RNA was a post Malcolm-X attempt to create a homeland for Afro-Americans who could not be, the founders believed, represented or protected by the US government.

The brain-child of several black radicals it resembled other experiments in extremism. Neo-nazis and, more honourably, libertarians have, after all, similar contemporary schemes for taking over a given corner of the North American continent and seceding. Many Texans and a handful of Alaskans harbour, of course, comparable ambitions.

It has to be said though that the RNA went to greater lengths to create their bit of Africa in the northern hemisphere. For one the RNA mapped an area of the south-eastern US where the new country would be based: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Beach is tempted to add, ‘good luck with that!’

For seconds, it formed a RNA government in waiting, presumably to negotiate its extraordinary claim for 400 billion dollars as compensation from the US government for slavery: and this in the 1960s when money was still worth something. The plan was that black Americans would be allowed to decide on their citizenship and many could then reverse the Great Migration and return to a new homeland on the Atlantic coast.

The RNA attempted to open negotiations with the Nixon White House: that naturally ignored the ‘peace-feelers’ and so the RNA was forced to make Jackson a provisional centre of their new government. Attempts to go further failed or led to blistering violence. In 1969 at the New Bethel Baptist Church gunfights broke out with the ‘occupying powers’. Then in 1970 the RNA put down their claim to their future territory by taking over a single homestead at Jackson in 1971. A policeman was killed in a raid there and eleven members of the RNA were arrested and charged and tried for murder including the then president Imari Obadele.

The RNA later simmered down to being ‘just’ another pressure group: though the struggle for reparations for slavery was first articulated in the RNA ranks. It is an idea that, while not mainstream, continues to fascinate elements in the Afro-American community to this day. A final echo of the reconstruction promise for  ‘fifty dollars, forty acres, and a mule’ for every freed slave?

Beachcombing is always on the look out for forgotten kingdoms, modern or ancient, failures or, however briefly, successes. Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Even shot up buildings in Jackson.