By Anthony James Ratcliff
Al Fatah was an extremely popular organisation at the Algiers festival, where it had sought to develop connections with African and Afro-North American revolutionaries. As one of Al Fatah’s leading creative intellectuals, Mahmoud Darwish received the Lotus Prize for Literature from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers in 1969, an affiliate organisation of the Bandung movement, a prize which had also been given to other progressive African writers such as Alex La Guma (South Africa), Chinua Achebe (Nigeria), Ousmane Sembene (Senegal), Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya), Amilcar Cabral (Cape Verde/Guinea Bissau), Agostinho Neto (Angola), Marcelino Dos Santos (Mozambique) and Malek Haddad (Algeria). For Madhubuti (Haki R.), these factors established a clear link between pan Africanists and Palestinian liberationists, made more concrete because “our common enemies eat the same bread / and their waste / (there is always waste) / is given to the pigs, / and then they consume the pigs”. His third “African Poem”, “Knocking Donkey Fleas off a Poet from the Southside of Chi”, is a tribute to Ted Joans, whom he hung out with during their performance with the Archie Shepp Quintet at the PACF. As a result, the two men developed a close friendship that is represented in mutual poems they dedicated to each other. Madhubuti’s piece describes Joans as “a continent jumper, / a show-upper, a neo-be-bopper, / he’s the first u see the last to flee, / the homeboy in African land”.
This article features in a special, Arabic-only edition of the Chronic, published in June 2015 as “Muzmin”. The issue, which examines the division of “North” and “sub-Saharan” Africa and Ali Mazrui’s concept of “Afrabia”, was designed in collaboration with Studio Safar (Beirut) and presented at the 12th edition of Sharjah Biennial.Buy the Chronic