Unbreakable Bond: Tracing the Ties Between African and Palestinian Anti-Colonial Struggles (Call for Submissions)

Unbreakable Bond: Tracing the Ties Between African and Palestinian Anti-Colonial Struggles (Call for Submissions)

A forthcoming symposium coordinated by Mohsen al Attar and Nciko wa Nciko

African peoples and states have long stood in solidarity with the liberation struggle of Palestinians. Following each proclamation of independence across the continent, African leaders demanded the same for Palestine, a place that encapsulated anti-colonial resistance to Western (racial) imperialism. As Nelson Mandela powerfully declared: ‘our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’ Likewise, Sankara was unforgiving

“Lastly, I speak out in indignation as I think of the Palestinians, whom this most inhuman humanity has replaced with another people, a people who only yesterday were themselves being martyred at leisure. I think of the valiant Palestinian people, the families which have been splintered and split up and are wandering throughout the world seeking asylum. Courageous, determined, stoic and tireless, the Palestinians remind us all of the need and moral obligation to respect the rights of a people. Along with their Jewish brothers, they are anti-Zionists.”

Thomas Sankara (1984)

Excluding Cameroon and Eritrea, all African countries recognise Palestinian statehood; 52/54 states compared to 9/27 members of the EU. It was thus unsurprising that South Africa would initiate proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for Israeli violations of the Genocide Convention. Still bearing wounds of apartheid’s genocidal violence, they assumed responsibility to combat ethno-chauvinism wherever it materialised.   

Similarly, Namibia shamed Germany for its narcissistic defence of Israel’s dehumanisation of Palestinians. Conscious of the Herero and Namaqua genocide perpetrated by Germans—their first of three in a little over a century—Namibians refused to remain silent when confronted yet again by European violence. Along with the African Union Commission, many African countries have called for an immediate halt to the severe suffering Israel is inflicting upon Palestinians, acts which the ICJ worries are threatening their very existence. For over four centuries, Africans endured the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, colonial oppression, and plunder. The empathy and solidarity of African peoples with Palestinians in their quest for dignity, justice, and self-determination is unbreakable. 

It is in this context that we launch this call for contributions. Mohsen al Attar and Nciko wa Nciko, in collaboration with Opinio Juris, invite scholars, practitioners, activists, artists, and subversives from Africa and its diasporas as well as the broader Third World to explore the significance of Palestinian liberation for African peoples and states. We extend this call to those who wish to examine their parallel histories of oppression and resistance, the imprint of racial imperialism on global order, or the political, social, and cultural bonds that tie African and Palestinian destinies. 

Many topics are of interest including (but not limited to):

  • International law’s potential in the transformation of the relationship between Africa, Palestine, and Israel
  • The Palestinian-African solidarity movement
  • The (paradoxical) role of international law in anti-colonial struggles 
  • The impact of international law on African domestic policies regarding Palestine
  • How international law has shaped African countries’ responses to the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian struggle for liberation 
  • Legal and diplomatic measures taken by African countries at the AU, UN, and other regional and international fora 
  • Boycott, divestment, and sanctions as a strategy to challenge Israeli occupation
  • The profound emotional, psychological, and phenomenological toll of the ongoing oppression faced by Palestinians and Africans 
  • The resistance / resilience exhibited by communities in the face of imperial adversity 
  • The enduring continuities of Western / white allyship in the face of anti-colonial struggles
  • Strategies Palestinian and African communities have adopted in their shared struggle for dignity, justice, and freedom 
  • Lessons the Palestinian struggle provides for social justice movements globally
  • Academic freedom and unfreedom in African academic (non)responses to the Palestinian struggle
  • How the struggle for Palestinian dignity is connected to continental conflicts and to African movements for self-determination, social justice, and human and peoples’ rights.

All struggles are connected. The Palestinian anti-colonial struggle is intrinsically tied to the neocolonial violence Africans continue to face. As Nkrumah forewarned, neocolonialism has instigated some of the deadliest conflicts of the 21st century, many of which are still unfolding on the African continent and bear genocidal features akin to those witnessed in Gaza. Use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, massacres of women, men, and children, and mass displacements are characteristic of neocolonial armed conflicts taking place in Amhara, Cabo Delgado, central Somalia, Khartoum, North Kivu, and Tigray. It is also worth noting that within the first two months of the Israeli assault, experts estimate that the greenhouse gas emissions generated by Israeli warfare exceeded the combined annual emissions of 20 climate-vulnerable countries. Despite Africa contributing less than 3% of global emissions, it is our continent that is warming the fastest and spikes in emissions such as those generated by Israel are more likely to trigger multiple climate change tipping points on the continent. 

With this backdrop of African histories, conflicts, and ecologies, al Attar and Nciko welcome submissions (1600-2000 words) for a symposium on the import of the Palestinian struggle for liberation to our material and psychological conditions as Africans. Our aim is to foster a diverse dialogue that illuminates the connections between African and Palestinian liberation struggles and, in so doing, advances our collective understanding and pursuit of justice and human dignity worldwide.

Please contact al Attar and Nciko at opiniojurisblog@gmail.com with a proposed title / topic by the end of May 2024. Once accepted, you will have 6 weeks to produce your submission and we will run the symposium in the second half of July 2024. Submissions from Palestinian colleagues, students, and comrades who struggle to get published on these issues are especially encouraged.

Nciko wa Nciko is an Amnesty International Climate Justice Advisor in East and Southern Africa and its lead advisor on human rights in Madagascar.

Photo courtesy of the New Arab.

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Africa, Calls for Papers, Emerging Voices, Featured, Middle East, Public International Law, Symposia
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