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Malcolm X Travels to Africa and Gain New Insights

And never are our people given the real picture. One thing I will say for James Farmer, with whom I was in a discussion earlier this week. He is going to Africa. One radio report -- I was riding home in my car one night, and I heard a radio newscaster say that James Farmer was going to Africa to counteract the false conceptions that I had given during my trip. Well, I called Farmer the next day. First I was in -- I was irked, I was irritated, I was very angry. But then I began to remember what the press had done to me and done to others in trying to divide and conquer, and I called Mr. Farmer. And he said he knew absolutely nothing about what this particular newscaster had reported.


Bernice Bass Interviews Malcolm X After His Trip to Africa, Middle East and Europe

Malcolm X and Bernice Bass (from the Malcolm X Museum)

BERNICE BASS:
And now dear hearts, I think it important that we turn to our guest of honor at this time, Minister Malcolm X, the son of a Baptist minister. Good morning.

MALCOLM X: How are you, Miss Bass?

BASS: Just fine, thank you. I suppose that's the question New York could ask you after your travels all over the African continent, Europe. We'd love to know exactly what you discovered and what you observed. Whether or not your viewpoints have changed any on the Afro-American questions.

MALCOLM X: Well, I've done a lot of traveling and, I think over all, travel does broaden one's soul. If anything at all, that's probably the most important of what's happened to me during the past five or six months.

I was fortunate to be able to spend, I think it was, two months in the Middle East and another two months in the African countries. And I think I visited Egypt, Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and then Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, what was then Zanzibar and Tanganyika and is now Tanzania, also Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Guinea, and Algiers, or rather Algeria. Then in Europe: Geneva, Paris, and London.

BASS: We who have not traveled have to rely solely on our communications media for the news that we get. What is disturbing and confusing, really, coming out of the African continent, is there unity among the African leaders there? Is there a cohesive effort or is it a divisive thing that has been reported so faithfully in the press, the American press.

MALCOLM X: The Western press tries to make it appear that there is a division among Africans. In any bloc or group that has a common objective, you will find disagreements. But overall there's unity. I think -- during World War II, America had her allies, and their common objective was to gain victory over a common enemy, but even within that body of allies, there were differences.

BASS: Just as there are today in NATO.

MALCOLM X: Certainly, today. But usually Western powers think that they have a priority on the right to differ among themselves. Because when blocs that are other than Western show signs of being able to differ -- or differences pop up, the Western press uses this to try and make it appear that they are savage, backward, not able to govern -- things of that sort.

BASS: That's something I wanted to ask you about. I've noticed in the last couple of weeks all of the references to the Congo crisis, when they talked about the debate in the United Nations they have talked about going back to savagery, tribal practices, this kind of thing. And yet they have in Italy the fact that they have eighteen ballots cast just this week alone trying to elect a premier. They have also -- before de Gaulle rose to power, they had a new premier of France every month. And no one considered that backward, and yet these were examples of civilization, culture, and so forth. How do the African delegates in this country and the African leaders in their own countries feel about this kind of characterization?

MALCOLM X: Well the -- I think this is one of the mistakes the West is making in its efforts to try and win the Africans on their side. The Africans, probably more so than ever before, are beginning to see the deceit and the double standard of measurement that's used when their own case is involved. And how it differs from that when the African case is involved. And this has gone a long ways toward making Africans question the motive of Western powers, including the United States.

It's not an accident that in the United Nations during this present session, for the first time during the nineteen or twenty years that the UN has been in existence, we find African foreign ministers who are openly accusing the United States of being an imperialist power and of practicing racism. In the past, these labels were always confined to the European colonial powers. But never was the United States itself singled out and labeled, identified as an imperialist power.

Neither was the case of Black people in this country ever linked with what was happening to people on the African continent. And if there's any drastic departure from past procedures that have been reflected already in the present UN session, it's the tendency on the part of African representatives one after another all to link what's happening in the Congo with what's happening in Mississippi.

And for the first time, too, since the UN has been in existence, we have representatives of foreign governments referring to the releasing of the twenty-one assassins of the civil rights workers. This was mentioned in the United Nations Security Council debate this week.

And so all of this is a sign, or reflects the tendency on the part of Africans to identify completely with what is happening to the Black man in this country. And they also realize that there's an increasing tendency on the part of our people in this country to identify with what's going on or happening to our people on the African continent.

And never are our people given the real picture. One thing I will say for James Farmer, with whom I was in a discussion earlier this week. He is going to Africa. One radio report -- I was riding home in my car one night, and I heard a radio newscaster say that James Farmer was going to Africa to counteract the false conceptions that I had given during my trip.

Well, I called Farmer the next day. First I was in -- I was irked, I was irritated, I was very angry. But then I began to remember what the press had done to me and done to others in trying to divide and conquer, and I called Mr. Farmer. And he said he knew absolutely nothing about what this particular newscaster had reported.

And then I had a personal conversation with him a little later on, which I found to be very intelligent and very objective on his part. And he explained then that he was going to take a fact-finding trip to Africa, and visit many of these places. And he done so under the auspices of the Big Six to find out -- they want to know for themselves the African story. And whether or not the news of Africa is being properly reported in this country. Which I think is a very progressive move on the part of those people who have been set up to lead Black people in this country.

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Home Essays & Reviews Essay & Discussion Malcolm X Travels to Africa and Gain New Insights